In apartheid-ruled South Africa, a renowned lawyer struggles to hide his secret affiliation to the nation's chief resistance movement - as he takes on defending a group of its arrested members, including its leader, Nelson Mandela.
Apartheid is rampant in South Africa, 1963. When ten men are arrested on a farm in Rivonia for conspiring to commit sabotage and violent acts against the repressive S. African government, tenacious lawyer Bram Fisher steps up to the challenge as lead counsel. He soon finds that political leader Nelson Mandela is also on trial. Mandela urges his fellow defendants to plead not guilty and shine light on the systemic corruption against the African people. As the outcome of the trial looks bleak, Mandela gives his famous "I'm Prepared to Die" speech, discussing how the ANC's resistance is justified. But will Mandela's impassioned speech save these men's lives?Written by
It is not mentioned in the movie, but Bram and Molly's son Paul Fischer suffered from cystic fibrosis, a disease that affects the lungs with chronic infections. During the period depicted in the movie, the disease usually claimed the patient's life before their thirties. See more »
A History Triumph: Outstanding Script, Acting, & Direction
Very well scripted and acted portrayal of the 1963 arrest and trial of Nelson Mandela and nine other ANC "trialists" (aka defendants) in apartheid-era South Africa. The focus is on their Afrikaner (white) defense lawyer, a well established advocate but political outlier from his own tribe as a closet communist and ANC supporter, whose whole life and family are roundly threatened by his sincere and dedicated, but predictably abortive, legal defense of the accused. An intriguing ethnic and cultural counterpoint is provided by the persona of the state's main prosecutor, a Jew whose role in prosecuting all ten defendants includes three who are also Jewish -- and is very motivated to do so for personal ideological reasons. As a period piece, this film feels very authentic, capably capturing the moods, sentiments, and affects of the privileged yet ever-fearful Afrikaners, the militant cadre of black resisters against apartheid, and the white supporters of that cadre in the South Africa of that era. The dialogue often varies delightfully between the serious and sporty, with most of the main characters seamlessly weaving English and Afrikaans verbiage together. The only real complaint is with the subtitles: They contain many mistakes in transcription and punctuation, and others are simply superfluous (e.g., "engine noises"). Not to worry, though, as the overall flow of meaning is usually clearly understandable, nonetheless. For all of South-Africa-philes, courtroom-drama aficionados, and history buffs, this is a very moving and insightful film that illustrates that good and evil can sometimes be intermixed and that even well intentioned people can suffer the burden of a complex of beliefs, motivations, fears and emotions that aren't always honorable.
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