Version: 1995; starring James Earl Jones, Richard Harris
Genre: classic; drama
Plot Summary: An elderly preacher in South Africa goes in search of his family in corrupt Johannesburg. Meanwhile, another man’s son meets an untimely death. The lives of both fathers are intertwined throughout the story.
My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not be comparing it to that novel. Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book. I would have never thought of watching this of my own accord except that I heard it highly recommend by Prof. Rosalie de Rosset on Moody Radio, who called it a good film adaptation of a classic book.
After having watched it, I still can’t say it was “my type of movie,” but I could recognize it as a good film, primarily the acting. I’d only seen James Earl Jones in small-budget Christmas movies, or heard him as voice over for Darth Vader or Mufasa. But in this movie he plays Rev. Samuel Kumalo, a character weighed heavily by several burdens. His acting is real and convincing. I also enjoyed watching Richard Harris, a very intriguing actor.
This movie is slow and at times sad, but I didn’t feel bored. There is a suggestive scene when two preachers seek someone who is living in a brothel, and also some crude language from some of the desperate characters. Rather than the story glorying in it though, one has the impression it is meant to portray how low some of the characters have fallen. It was not a movie where I felt I had to cringe every 5 seconds.
The story is bookended by quotes from the book narrated by the deep, rich voice of James Earl Jones. If you’re looking for a movie with a happy ending, this wouldn’t be for you. But, if you’re in the mood for a classic drama, here’s a recommended one!