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

4.3 out of 5 stars 25 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
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
  • DVD Release Date: October 11, 2011
  • Run Time: 83 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004USUOUY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,410 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on October 5, 2011
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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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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This is a deeply moving, powerful movie; brilliantly presented. No one who has not experienced apartheid first hand can fully appreciate the depth of authenticity portrayed. I was living in Johannesburg (one of the privileged “whites”) at the time that provides the setting for this story (the 50's) and saw for myself the ugliness of that regime and the wicked indoctrination to which white children and young people were exposed. I heard Dutch Reformed Ministers declare from their pulpits that the subjection and humiliation of the “kaffirs” was right and God-ordained. I saw young people just like Harold and some considerably worse and Freddie Highmore’s portrayal is bang on and deserves an “A” with as many pluses as you care to add. After watching this movie I had the strong sense of déjà vu. As for Sam and Willie, all I can say is that I know these men. The realism in the dialogue, accent, costuming and characterization was for me unbelievably accurate. The muted, understatement of the ugliness of apartheid is masterfully handled and the ending is nothing short of heart-rending. One cannot conclude without mentioning the "little boy" Harold. I saw him often on the streets of Rosettenville and recognised him right away. If I could, I would give this one more than five stars.
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Very well done movie. A must see for anyone that you can not judge a "race" as a whole rather than forming an opinion based on the individual. Who your parents are or were simply does not matter. It is what a person can do, is willing to do, that counts.
Acting was great, good story, sad ending.
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