Based on the Jan van Tonder novel with the same title. It tells the story of a 1966 railway community, told through the eyes of an eleven year old boy, called Timus. Timus and his family are trapped within the structural violence caused by the government and the church at the time. An unlikely hero, Joon, often appears to save Timus and these acts of kindness is seen by Timus as miracles. Timus tells the story of Joon and also his own coming of age and loss of innocence and how Joon tries to give a little of that lost innocence back to Timus. Nobody shares this point of view with Timus, Joon however goes on to save this whole community at the end. It is a story with unforgettable characters and it combines the magical world of childhood beautifully with the realistic world we live in.Written by
Salmon de Jager
The lawns of eight neighboring houses had to be painted green as the film is set in Durban, a city in a lush tropical region of South Africa. Production of exterior shots were in fact done at the height of a Highveld winter in Johannesburg, 550km from Durban. See more »
Roepman is a drama film, based on the novel of modern Afrikaner writer and reporter Jan van Tonder. The title, which could be translated as The Knocker-up, means a profession, which existed in the times, when people usually didn't have alarm clocks, and had to be roused by a special person, so they could get to work. But since this word is not in common usage nowadays, the official English title is Stargazer.
As we are being told about the meaning of this word, Joon the Knocker-up wakes the family of Rademan, which live in a 1960s railway workers' settlement in South Africa, and the story begins. Told through the eyes of an eleven-years old boy called Timus, it focuses on two intermingled aspects – the collapse of the family, caused by harsh actions of father Abraham, an orthodox Protestant and a supporter of apartheid régime, and local troubles in depressed community. Timus's sisters turn against father, which tries to compel them to live by strict religious rules, the boy himself is harassed by a local mobster, and punished by his father for making up tales, and walleyed Joon the Knocker-up ('he would be staring at the sky, even if he weren't walleyed, because he is the only one, who see the heavens') tries to protect the boy and to bring peace to the neighbourhood, but clashes with a local macho. Of course, out of so many tense moments some tragedy must arise by the end of the movie.
Although the plot develops during the apotheosis of apartheid, the movie, unlike many other modern South African films, practically doesn't mention it. The relations between Whites and Blacks is much more friendly, than among Whites themselves, and one of the most effective scenes in the film is when a black handmaiden cries at the news of the assassination of PM Hendrik Verwoerd, the main architect of the racial segregation in the RSA, polishing his portrait and calling him compassionately 'Dr. Foorfoor'.
The cast, though consists of local, practically unknown worldwide, actors, does show a good deal of believable acting, resembling living people of that time and land, with their real fears, faults, and ideals.
It's certainly not the movie to spent a pleasant evening with, but if you are looking for something serious, melancholic, and in an unusual setting – it's your choice.
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