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Master Harold... and the Boys [Blu-ray]

22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and Golden Globe winner Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction) are unforgettable in Athol Fugard's searing coming of age masterpiece set in apartheid-era South Africa. On a rainy afternoon in his mother's tea house, lonely 17 year-old Hally and Sam and Willie, two middle-aged black servants, share idyllic memories of their lifelong friendship. But when Hally learns that his invalid alcoholic father is coming home from the hospital, he unleashes his resentment and rage on Sam and Willie with devastating consequences. Lonny Price, who portrayed Hally on Broadway, captures all the heartbreak and humanity of one of the most celebrated plays of our time.


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Product Details

  • Actors: Freddie Highmore, Ving Rhames
  • Directors: Lonny Price
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Blu-ray, Color, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
  • DVD Release Date: October 11, 2011
  • Run Time: 83 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004USUOUY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,424 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray
Having seen several versions of Anthol Fugard's Tony winning play "Master Harold...and the Boys" since its debut in 1982, I was curious to see how it might be expanded for a genuine film adaptation. A presentation from 1985 starring Matthew Broderick was televised, but it was simply a recording of a live stage production. Director Lonny Price (who starred in the original Broadway cast) keeps the integrity of the piece alive even as he releases the drama from its single setting environment. Of course, I wouldn't want too much variation because what is so striking, understated, and powerful about the work is its intimacy. Originally a three character drama, the expansion here introduces several other principles and locations but keeps the heart of Fugard's world intact. Set in apartheid era South Africa, "Master Harold" tackles broad themes and complex relationships in a surprisingly effective and personal way.

Freddie Highmore plays the title role, a conflicted teenager struggling with a difficult home life and an alcoholic father. For many of his years, he has turned to the family's black servant (Ving Rhames playing Sam) for friendship and understanding. As he has started to realize that the world is filled with hatred and casual racism, his relationship with Sam and Willie (another servant) has begun to evolve in new ways. The bulk of the movie has these three characters confined in a roadhouse diner owned by Highmore's mother. It's a stormy day and the three are left to their own devices which includes some play, some arguments, some ballroom dancing, and some reminiscences. The dialogue veers between sparring and genuine fondness as Highmore continues to redefine their roles.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jim Ross on November 23, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I recently saw the stage play in San Francisco in an intimate 50-seat theatre, the perfect venue for the powerful 3-actor play. The movie stays faithful to the play throughout, adding only some minimal scenes that fill in some of the back story contained in the play's dialogue. Filming it on location in Cape Town was therefore a good idea to lend an air of authenticity. The actors in this movie filling the play's roles of Hallie, Sam, and Willie are top-knotch, playing their roles with the required sensitivity. The movie lacks the power & punch of the stage play, which I think can only be properly conveyed from the stage, but it got as close as can be expected. If you can't see the play, this movie is a reasonably good alternative.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John H on October 26, 2011
Format: DVD
The play upon which this film is based was a groundbreaking piece of work when it first came out and catapulted the playwright, Athol Fugard, to immediate international celebrity. Lonny Price did a great job of adapting this to the screen, and the film should be seen by everyone, not just by loyal Fugard fans, because it's a reflection on a very important time in history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Caren C. Browning on December 1, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Not sure why there hasn't been more attention paid to this excellent film. It is a beautifully done movie of a vitally important theatrical masterpiece, created with great sensitivity and respect. For anyone interested in the work and life of Athol Fugard this is a must see. Stream it, rent it, buy it ... it needs to be seen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Carter on August 12, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Here's a wonderful film involving small incidents but really about big things. Based on Athol Fugard's play set in 1950s apartheid South Africa, the film focuses on the relationship between a middle class white family, especially the young son Hally, and two life-long black servants, Sam and Willie. Against the backdrop of a racism-based feudal system, ordinary individuals like Mom and Dad succumb to the lewd social conventions of a corrupt system while a select few, like Hally, dream of a better world. But when generations of the system's social conditioning threaten to corrupt even Hally's innate sense of right and wrong, he must make a momentous choice--a task a bit unfair for his young age--between allegiance to his enlightened sense of social justice (as well as to Sam and Willie) and the psychological temptations of the repressive and condescending attitudes of the morally bankrupt society around him. Fugard explores nothing less than human nature and the institutions humans create and the question of whether it is individuals or institutions that are evil. But rather than a scholarly tome on larger political and social ideas, "Master Harold" introduces us to anonymous characters and their ordinary day-to-day interactions to show us the insidious ways that generational and institutional racism, backed by the state and with an iron fist, reinforces and preserves itself by perverting the values of people, young and old, living within the institution. Fugard, at one time persecuted by his own South African Government, wants nevertheless to tell us that he's not given up on human nature, and that it is through the triumph of personal decency, learning, and self-respect that individuals begin to break the shackles of an immoral system.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Kellner on December 7, 2011
Format: DVD
When I first saw the play on stage, I found the pain and confrontation so awful that I couldn't look away. I'd never found drama so emotionally stirring and welcomed a version filmed on a full movie set. The additional scenes and the added characters (mother, father, and the classmates) were a plus.

The movie, however, bowdlerized both the F- and the N- word, which I thought was a mistake. A play intended to be ugly shouldn't be cleaned up.
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Master Harold... and the Boys [Blu-ray]
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