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Friday, March 23, 2012

Alan Paton, Cry the Beloved Country

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I am going to write about the film which was shot according to the book Cry, the beloved country written by Alan Paton. Paton wrote this book from his deep concern with the racial problem in South Africa. This film was shot in the early sixties and even though there were already made colored films, this one is black and white as the whole issue of apartheid between blacks and whites, which is the subject of many books and films.


This film is very similar to the book and the script is nearly completely the same. Every character says exactly the same words as those in the book. In the beginning of the film there is the sight of the landscape of Ndotsehni and the words of how the land is destroyed because of the bad treatment with the land. This tells about the bad situation in South Africa. The action is based on the story of Stephen Kumalo, the black priest of Ndotsehni.


One day Kumalo receives a letter from the priest from Johannesburg in which there is written that his sister Gertrude is very sick and that he is to come to Johannesburg . He hasn’t heard from his son, sister and brother for years. When he comes to Johannesburg he is very confused because he has never been to such a big city before. He is helped by the young priest Msimangu. He finds his sister with her child living in very bad conditions. Gertrude’s sickness is not a normal kind of sickness. She is doing a prostitute and also illegal activities. She knows nothing about Kumalo’s son Absalom. He takes her to the place where he is now living. Their plan is that he will take them back to Ndotsenhi. Then Kumalo finds his brother John. John is a carpenter and a bussinessman. He has an another opinion about the blacks and whites as his brother does. He knows also nothing about Absalom. He knows only that Absalom and his son were companions. The searching for Absalom is very hard and Kumalo finds his son when it is too late. His son is to be hung because of murder of a white man. Before he’s hung he marries his not legal wife with whom he has child so Kumalo would take her with him to Ndotsehni. When Kumalo is to come back to Ndotsehni Gertrude disappears but she leaves her child with Kumalo. Everybody is happy that Kumalo is back but he is a little bit ashamed that his son is a murderer. Kumalo meets a father of a killed man, Mr.Jarvis. Mr.Jarvis doesn’t feel anger in him and he understands Kumalo, because he knows that Kumalo is a good man. He gives money to Kumalo to build a new church, he also sends a man to teach people in Ndotsehni how to cultivate the land so it would be as rich as it was before. In the end of the film there is Kumalo standing on the hills waiting for the dawn, the dawn when his son is to be hung, the dawn which brings a new hope to South Africa. This end is accompanied with the hymnic song Onto the hills.


The whole film is very well made. The characters are played excellently and the setting looks exactly in the way that it is described in the book. I liked both the book and the film very much.


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