Cry Freedom Themes

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The 1987 film Cry Freedom is based two of Donald Woods’ books, Asking for Trouble and Biko. It tells the friendship between Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko and White liberal newspaper editor, Donald Woods. The film’s director, Richard Attenborough presents the first half as Woods’ education on the struggle on Black consciousness movement and it fight against apartheid, and the latter features the plight of Woods’ and his family escape from South Africa in order for him to publish a book revealing the true horrors of apartheid. Nevertheless, I found that this film didn’t live up to its avowed standards, as it wanted to honestly look at apartheid but they give the 2 hour and 39 minutes to seeing apartheid from the eyes of a white character, …show more content…
This film tells the story of how the life of Donald Woods was altered by his decision to befriend Biko. Under apartheid, Steve Biko who had such an active choice, his only choice was to react in a friendly, rather than an un-friendly, manner. The first part of the movie deal with the growing friendship between the two characters, as Biko begins to educate Woods on the movement and the conditions of Black South Africans under apartheid. Once Biko is assassinated, the latter part of the film finds Donald Woods and his family trying to escape from the South African authorities repressive laws. Attenborough delivered a picture on a topic that was discussed with little to no depth. Much of the first part of the movie sees Steve Biko take centre stage and giving the audience a layered view of a complex man involved in a socio-political movement in South Africa. I thought film was building up to something greater or more nuance, yet I was greatly disappointed when the second part began. The filmmaker didn’t covey the apartheid conditions with any real honest, as most scenes granted large, explosive head to head with South African authorities and Black South Africans in illegal townships. I do not doubt that this scene and others aren’t based on real events, but they downplay the perspective of the oppressed to give a Hollywood appeal. What I …show more content…
What I found most upsetting was that anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko is portrayed in such a distortion. Biko was a radical who vehemently opposed all forms of oppression. He was depicted in such away that whitewashes him into a palpable version of himself for white audiences, thus his ideas about liberals and apartheid come off as less radical than they really were. Biko once stated that white liberals walk between the two worlds, where verbalize all the complaints of the blacks while skilfully extracting what suits them from their inherent white privileges. He even declares that the system of apartheid is tied up with the systems of capitalism, white supremacy and deliberate oppression. In Peter Davis’s In Darkest Hollywood: Exploring the Jungles of Cinema's South Africa, he suggests that the film disarms Biko and making him non-threatening to whites. Davis goes on to say that this depiction isn’t authentic to how Biko’s generation perceived him and the implicit message that he carries throughout the movie of ‘ love thy white neighbour’ isn’t truthful whatsoever. Biko protested that Blacks need to have their own singular voice and for White liberals to appeal to their white neighbour’s conscience instead trying to speak for black people. It is hard to rationalize the representation of

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