Cry the Beloved Country (1951)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Courtroom Drama, Message Movie  |   Release Date - Dec 15, 1995 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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A passionate film that is surprisingly perceptive about the Apartheid issue in South Africa, Cry the Beloved Country is an immensely moving and involving cinematic experience. Beautifully drawn from Alan Paton's classic novel, Country is too often dismissed by those who have not seen it as a "message" picture. Certainly, Country is grappling with an intense social topic that was all too current in 1951; but the problem of Apartheid, while it informs almost every frame of the film, ultimately becomes of almost secondary importance. The transformative experience shared by Stephen Kumolo and James Jarvis is what the film really becomes about, and the heartbreaking growth that they endure. Looking at the issue from a human and humane point of view, making the universal specific, Country becomes a powerful drama that grabs the audience and never lets go. The excellent screenplay deserves tremendous credit, but so does Zoltan Korda, who has directed it with the utmost respect and a sure and welcome combination of restraint and compassion. He is blessed to have Canada Lee and Charles Carson as his stars, each giving a performance that is perfectly attuned to the needs of the film. They create two characters that are fundamentally real, and the audience becomes wrapped up in their journey. There are a few complaints about Country, such as some choppy editing here and there, but on the whole it is a first rate drama.