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Inspired by the true story of Siseko Ntondini and Piers Cruickshanks, who together won gold in the 2014 Dusi, Beyond the River delivers a nail-biting adventure story about the triumph of the human spirit.
1981 - RECCE, Henk Viljoen, is wrongfully declared KIA behind enemy lines. Abandoned by his superiors; it's a race for survival in which his mental and physical abilities are pushed to their limits, as he navigates his way through the treacherous Angolan war zone in an effort to make his way home to his loved ones.
It is 2002. The lead singer of the Gereformeerde Blues Band, Johannes Kerkorrel, just committed suicide. A group of friends gather to celebrate his life and the passing of an era. Through flashbacks and voice overs we re-live the rise of the Voëlvry movement and the rebellion of young, Afrikaans students in the build-up to the fall of the National Party. We share in the friends' confusion of being young and finding their place in the world.Written by
I was immensely surprised by this movie. I usually hate Afrikaans movies (and I'm Afrikaans), but trust me, you are going to want to watch this one. It casts a new light on the Apartheid struggle, showing it from a white perspective.
The film is historic. It touches on the dissatisfaction that liberal white Afrikaaners had with the NP government. Other subjects like the Hippie movement; the Afrikaner 'secret police', the ban on controversial protest music in the Apartheid years; 'voortrekker' camps for children and the infamous President PW Botha. Almost every aspect of the forced conservative life that Afrikaners lived is touched on in the movie.
The film also showed the shell-shocked emotion of the Afrikaans community in post-Apartheid.
The film was technically flawless. The cinematography was minimalist and unique. The costumes and sets so accurately captured the anti-Apartheid movement. The music was set seamlessly to elevate scenes.
The drama is world-class. The love triangle between three of the bandmates was captivating. I personally enjoyed the insight that the film showed into the Angolan boarder war, and how it haunted the one character Hein. The best oart of the movie was the mystery around Johnny - how he was simultaneously there and not there. The film was funny. It balanced absurdity and heartfelt human emotion.
The film is not nostalgic, nor is it resentful. I think it provides an objective insight to the 1987-1989 time period. What is clear is how much 'Voëlvry' meant to the people who listened to Johannes Kerkorrel at the time. Even if you don't like rock and roll, or Afrikaans music, it is clear just how rebellious, risky and impactful Johannes Kerkorrel was. A South African Jim Morrison of sorts.
This is a flim that should streach beyond the Afrikaans community. Although there are no people of colour in the cast, I still believe that it provides an interesting, overlooked part of the Apartheid struggle. It is a South African movie that exceeds international standards. A film for every inquisitive mind who likes to think beyond boundaries.
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