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Cry Freedom

157 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The tension and terror that is present-day South Africa is powerfully portrayed in director Richard Attenborough's sweeping story of black activist Stephen Biko (Denzel Washington) and a liberal white newspaper editor who risks his own life to bring Biko's message to the world.After learning of apartheid's true horrors through Biko's eyes, editor Donald Woods (Kevin Kline) discovers that his friend has been silenced by the police. Determined not to let Biko's message go unheard, Woods undertakes a perilous quest to escape South Africa and bring Biko's remarkable tale of courage to the world. The riveting, true story offers a stirring account of man at his most evil and most heroic.

Special Features

  • Production Notes
  • Cast and Filmmakers
  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Kevin Kline, Denzel Washington, Penelope Wilton, John Hargreaves, Alec McCowen
    • Directors: Richard Attenborough
    • Writers: John Briley
    • Producers: Richard Attenborough
    • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
    • Subtitles: English, Spanish
    • Dubbed: French
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
    • Studio: Universal Studios
    • DVD Release Date: February 23, 1999
    • Run Time: 159 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: 0783230532
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,734 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Cry Freedom" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    108 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Daniel McInnis on May 25, 2004
    Format: DVD
    The criticism I've heard when this movie is being discussed has always bothered me to some degree. The knock against it is that Denzel Washington is so strong in the role of Steve Biko, and he himself was such an important figure in South African history, that he deserves a movie of his own. Now, while I agree with this assessment, and hope that maybe a Djimon Hounsou or Chiwetel Ejiofor will revisit the role at some future date, I can't help but feel that these people are judging the movie for what they wanted it to be, and not what's actually up there on the screen.
    Not only that, but I feel that the loss of Biko midway through the film actually serves a purpose. And that purpose is, by the final half-hour, when we're privileged enough to have a few flashbacks of him, we realize what a loss he has been to the movie, and to the world. So by having him cut out of a good portion of the film, we're made to grieve his death while the movie continues to soldier forward.
    Oh, and by the way, it's not like that second half is a dog, either. It's just not quite as good as the first. I mean, if this movie were cut in two (ala "Kill Bill"), we'd being saying that part one was brilliant, while part two was merely very good. And considering that the 80's were hardly a golden age for Hollywood, that ain't bad.
    Now, getting back to Denzel, this is not only the best performance of his career, but possibly one of the greatest ever captured on celluloid, and I find it deeply disconcerting that he didn't win an Academy Award for this performance while he was honored for a menial role in "Training Day" (I'll post a review later explaining my opinion).
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    59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Judy K. Polhemus VINE VOICE on July 29, 2008
    Format: DVD
    When I was a high school English teacher and read and discussed "Cry, the Beloved Country" with my seniors, I always showed "Cry Freedom" in conjunction. Students were mesmerized. While the novel was set in South Africa with apartheid partly responsible for the crime that takes place, apartheid is as much a major character as Stephen Biko or Donald Woods in the movie.

    In case you are confused, "Cry, the Beloved Country" is the lyrical novel by Alan Paton, published in 1948 and set in South Africa, Paton's homeland. Three racial groups, lived together, not in harmony, there: the Dutch, who later called themselves Afrikaaners, who settled there three hundred years earlier and believed they sere sent by God to take control; the English who settled everywhere; and the native groups, of which Bantu was one. This novel is a moving testament to the forgiving nature of men and how two men from totally different worlds can come together in grace and acceptance.

    In "Cry Freedom," the film based on the nonfiction book by the same name, is a story of Stephen Biko, a black South African political activist who understood the inherent dangers in being an activist but lived by the creed that a man has to do what a man has to do. He is befriended in respect and admiration by a white American journalist, Donald Woods. Their two stories are equally important because of the consequences of their actions.

    Denzel Washinton performs the role of Biko as if he was Biko--I was that convinced. His South African accent is perfect. I personally believe this is the best acting role of his distinguished career. Kevin Kline is also excellent and performs one of my favorite roles he has ever played.

    Biko brashly challenges the Afrikanner government and is banned from ever speaking again.
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    31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By leslies_library on August 12, 2004
    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    What a treat to see this beautiful film on dvd. I had seen it on vhs years ago, and recently found and read BIKO by Donald Woods, on which the film was based. The movie stays very close to the book.

    For those interested, the book delves much deeper into Biko's life and character, and gives a good summarized history of South Africa. The book also gives more information about the transformation of Woods from a liberal to an activist and the development of their friendship.

    Denzel's performance is top notch, and the music moving. You will have a lump in your throat at the end. I found the movie even more enjoyable after reading the book and seeing it on dvd.
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    22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Jon Saye on April 9, 2003
    Format: DVD
    Mr Keogh claims that this movie is only semi-successful because its focus shifts halfway through to focus on Donald Woods' attempt to escape South Africa. I do not think that this is a flaw in the film, though, because the film was based upon Woods' writings about both Steve Biko AND his escape from South Africa. The movie was not intended to be simply a biopic about Biko, because it was based upon the work that Woods wrote.
    I watched this film in an African Philosphy course in which we read some of Biko's own work and personally, I feel that the entire film is a wonderful film. It is true that the emphasis does shift to Donald Woods' escape, but the scene where he is looking down on South Africa from the airplane that then shifts to the protest/massacre of school children is both beutifally stirring (the protest) and utterly horrific (the massacre that then esues). To anyone interested in human rights or the struggles agains Apartheid that Biko helped contribute to, I would recommend this movie highly.
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