In this essay I will be giving my review of the film A Dry White Season, directed by Euzhan Palcey and based on the book by award winning South-African author Andre Brink. The film was made in 1989. The film is set in 1976 during the Soweto uprising, during a time Black South Africans began to demonstrate against white oppression. The film follows a middle class, white schoolteacher called Ben Du Toit, who at first is ignorant to the treatment of Blacks in South Africa. The film goes on to show how his attitude changes when a close Blacks friend of his mysteriously dies in a jail cell, which the police claim to be “suicide”.
Ben is reluctant to believe it was suicide. Angry at his friend’s death Ben vows to fight the injustice and treatment of the Blacks. In result to this his life and values become threatened. The whole situation has a huge affect on his family who become divided between acceptance and defiance of the system. His wife (Susan) and daughter represent acceptance of the system, not necessarily because they agree with the treatment of s but because they are content with their lives (this is how many of the Whites felt) and are worried that Ben’s struggle to fight the system will disrupt their comfortable way of life.
On the overhand Ben’s son has total faith in his father and for the cause he is fighting therefore gives his father his support. Stanley a Black taxi driver who has many connections and Melanie a reporter also support Ben. The author probably knew that situations like this were occurring in his country and wrote the book in order to inform or make people aware of what Blacks faced in South Africa at the time. The director expresses this well in the film.
The director also tries to give a graphic depiction of the torturing techniques the police used to interrogate suspects. This plays with the emotions of the audience, making them feel both sad and disgusted. The film has a realistic feel to it because it did not have a typical “Hollywood” ending with Ben being successful in his attempts to defeat the system, but instead he falls victim to it when he is murdered. The general theme of the film shows how the author feels about the corruption in his own country.
I feel that the author feels he would react in the same way that Ben does if he were in that situation, and the film clearly shows that the author believes it was necessary to fight against the cruelty and oppression towards Blacks. In general I feel that the characters in the film were very convincing. I think the most intriguing of the characters is Stanley because he comes across as cocky and cunning. His character is portrayed as someone with huge amount of confidence and charisma. Stanley is very helpful to Ben because of his many connections.