Cry Freedom (1987)

When I think of Black people, i really do think of Denzel.

In a segregated South Africa, black nationalist Steven Biko (Denzel Washington) and white newspaper editor Donald Woods (Kevin Kline) are unlikely friends with a common goal: ending apartheid. When Biko’s beliefs land him in prison and he’s covertly murdered by South African authorities, Woods rallies to expose the injustice.

I have seen a lot of apartheid films, and in the end they all seem to have the same preachy vibe to it. Except this one is less of a message and more of a story, which really kept me going.

Cry Freedom has a lot of really powerfully disturbing scenes that really do capture the essence of this time in Africa. The constant use of imagery throughout the film, had me taken back by the true reality that lied within Africa and how it’s people were treated by this new government taking.

The one thing that’s very fresh about this film, is that the very powerful scenes that feature Biko’s funeral has Woods at it, and the film could’ve easily ended with that scene and had a little tribute to all the victims. However, the film doesn’t do that and it goes into a completely different direction, about telling the story of Woods and his family escaping Africa.

When this happened, I had the most problems with this film. I felt like the story became too much like a thriller, and really lost it’s message that it was trying to get at it with. I felt the slow pace really did make this film at times very unbearable and feel dragged at points that could have been interesting. Some scenes that were in this film didn’t feel like they we’re needed and actually could’ve been taken away so it could break down the film’s straneous 2 hour and 37 minute time-limit.

I liked the performance from Washington as he shows early on that he was destined for glory. He underplays his character with a sense of truth and despair without getting too preachy and annoying. Kline also gives a good performance taking on the latter part of the film, and actually almost doing a better more effective job than Washington, but sadly he doesn’t.

Consensus: Cry Freedom has some very powerful scenes and strong performances, but lags with it’s slow pace mixed in with a very long last 30 minutes.


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