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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 29 March 2001
This is a very powerful film, based on a very powerful book, that will leave you asking the tough questions about governments and racial relationships. Kevin Kline plays Donald Woods, the editor who indergoes a change of opinion and a change of character (from someone who thinks they believe in what's right, to someone who's willing to act on what he knows is right) and Denzel Washington never looks less than dignified as the great activist Steve Biko. The death of Biko, and Woods' escape from South Africa are just two of the images that will stay with you long after watching the movie, and the acting is so superb it is easy to forget that these are two American actors with affected accents. See it. It will do you good.
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on 31 October 2005
I have never provided reviews for films or CDs or any other service. However for this film, I will make an exception because it's deserving of it. In short, this film made me cry each of the two times I have watched it. This isn't meant to be especially unique even for a guy, but I questioned and in fact feared whether the film would have the same impact on me the second time I watched it and amazingly it did. Thing is, the film simply reaches a climax at the very end that will be very hard for anyone not to be touched by. It's a great story about 1 man's bravery and fight for justice. Clearly we know of another more prominent figure in South Africa who showed all these qualities including great leadership, but Biko had these too. Fantastic performance by Kevin Klein and Denzel Washington. I wish there had been more about the life of Stephen Biko.
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on 20 June 2005
This is an excellent and important film about fighting the despicable prejudice of the apartheid regime in South Africa. At the time it was made there was a little bit of criticism that Attenborough had chosen to focus on the white character, Donald Woods, rather than the black character Steve Biko. This was missplaced. His film is about the need for liberal-minded people to ask themselves whether they are doing enough to combat tyranny. It traces the personal journey of Woods from the position of priviliged liberal to a more advanced and outspoken oppositon to the South African government. Besides, it would be untrue to claim that the black characters are not fully developed here. We get a clear sense of where Biko is coming from and why his struggle was so important. Obviously the film is a militant film, but what's wrong with that, when what you're militating against is something so blatantly unjust as apartheid? The film is well-made, well-written and a moving experience. You also get a glimpse of the physical beauty of that part of the world, even though the film was actually shot in Zimbabwe.
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on 12 July 2013
Rubbish copy of what is a decent film.
Tiny little letterbox picture that doesn't seem to transfer to any screen size very well, plus the audio is strange - seems to be a badly dubbed audio track that is slightly out of sync which is very distracting.
Hopefully there will be a blu-ray soon because the quality of this DVD is very poor.
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on 29 November 2013
Would Steve Biko have preferred a black South African to have written this book? I don't know. But it was given to Donald Woods to write it as he was there. It is an important book as a record of a part of Biko's life, and takes its place in history, though there is much more to Biko than this. It is also important as one (white) journalist's experience of Apartheid, though there is more to be said about that also.
The movie is well worth watching, though it is perhaps a little too glib at times. No a 'great', maybe, but worth its place on your shelf.
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on 17 May 2012
Basically, this is a great film, very underrated. However, viewing pleasure is somewhat spoiled by the letter box format. I really can't understand how the makers of this DVD could imagine this format would do it justice. Disappointing.
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on 14 October 2014
A purchase in remembrance of Lord Attenborough, Richard, who died during 2014.
His body of work is truly stunning.
This film stands up in 2014, an epic, and depiction of those times of Apartheid.
Still very much relevant today, thought provoking.
The acting is top notch, the direction and cinematic quality, too.
Educational, and inspiring.
I have seen the film before, this is a film to be watched again and again.
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on 10 July 2006
It's no joke. From the first time I saw this film in a Religious Education lesson at school to now when I watch it at home alone, the story has changed my life. Not until you've seen the film, do you realise how great today's life really is for so many of us. A powerful, eye-opening film, that gets me in tears everytime i watch it. A MUST SEE.
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on 23 May 2014
Great movie , well worth a watch especially if you have recently watched Mandela. Kevin Kline also puts in a very strong performance. Thankfully the days of apartheid are past but this film captures the time period superbly.
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on 24 April 2015
I have owned this DVD for some time, but will admit to a reluctance to watch it as I knew it must contain violence. I remember the news items about apartheid in South Africa and the terrible things that were happening then. Eventually I got around to watching it, having recently also introduced myself to Attenborough's other masterpiece Gandhi.

Cry Freedom is based on the specific accounts and guidance of Donald and Wendy Woods, he being a South African journalist who had become involved with the thoughtful and charismatic Steve Biko, much against the advice of his fellow white journalists. Being a true story, of course I knew Biko's death would come along, but before it did Denzel Washington had given me a very good idea of this quiet-spoken intelligent man's ideas of how the campaign for black freedoms should be fought. He gave Donald Woods a good idea of the complete lack of justice and the betrayal of even basic decency under apartheid, by showing the curious Woods a shanty town where the blacks live. It's an eye-opener for him, and with much care for the daily risk-taking Biko builds a working relationship with this editor of a newspaper, who is now risking his affairs by putting stories of the campaigning on his front pages.

As the years have gone by, it's easy to forget how hideous a regime apartheid was, there have been few crueller regimes in human history I suspect. The second half of this sweeping, lusciously photographed and very honestly depicted film, follows the brutal death in prison of Biko with Woods's attempts to force an official inquest into the death, the bullying and brutalising of his family by the police, and eventually his own family's fearful adventure as they escaped the country to England. As he escapes, Woods's character remembers bits of conversation with Biko, and it is with another scene of the past that the film nears its end. Watching the film now, it is easy to forget that apartheid was still at its brutal worst when the film was made, so the triumphantly marching children and the soundtrack towards the end made me think of a rosy Hollywood-ending, but for the shocking footage of the true event where the police machine-gunned dead over 700 of those school-children that day - a stark message to the film audience when the film was made.

As with Gandhi, this film could only have been made by a man who stood up for what he believed in, Richard Attenborough made a long sweeping and completely absorbing, beautiful, moving history of a time we should never forget.
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