92 - Cry the Beloved Country
South African pastor Steven Kumalo (James Earl Jones) rushes from his village to the big city after his son, Absolom, is arrested for killing a white boy during an armed robbery. The father of the slain teen, rural farmer James Jarvis (Richard Harris), is indifferent to racial apartheid, the separation of whites and Africans, which in the film was still required by law in South Africa. When the black preacher and the white farmer encounter each other, both come to unexpected realizations not only about their sons, but about their own humanity.
This 1995 effort is a remake of a 1952 Sidney Poitier film, made when apartheid was still law. Since South African authorities were unbending, black stars Poitier and Canada Lee and white director Zoltan Korda cooked up a scheme where they told immigration authorities that Poitier and Lee were were Korda's servants. Otherwise, they would not have been allowed to associate with each other while in the country.
Pastor Kumalo’s grief and confusion is heart-rending as he discovers the killing was accidental – but his son has confessed. As a bereaved father, farmer Jarvis is stunned to find his son had repudiated baaskap, the dogma of white superiority, believed from childhood by most South African whites.
Will mercy be extended to the pastor's son who cooperated with authorities – but wrongfully confessed – or will he suffer the ultimate penalty while the guilty go free? Amid terrible misery, this movie surprisingly offers a flicker of hope for the future.
~ Rob Kerby