|A drama set against the backdrop of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, “In My Country” charts the lowest depths of pain and suffering and reveals the redeeming power of forgiveness and love.
(2005) Film Review
page was created on March 9, 2005
This page was last updated on
July 27, 2005
—About this Film pdf
Dial up modems will take a few moments
by John Boorman
by Antjie Krog
Screenplay by Ann Peacock
(in credits order)
Samuel L. Jackson .... Langston Whitfield
Juliette Binoche .... Anna Malan
Brendan Gleeson .... De Jager
Menzi Ngubane .... Dumi Mkhalipi
Sam Ngakane .... Anderson
Aletta Bezuidenhout .... Elsa
Lionel Newton .... Edward Morgan
Langley Kirkwood .... Boetie
Owen Sejake .... Reverend Mzondo
Harriet Lenabe .... Albertina Sobandia
Louis Van Niekerk .... Willem Malan
Jeremiah Ndlovu .... Old Man in Wheelbarrow
Fiona Ramsey .... Felicia Rheinhardt
Dan Robbertse .... De Smidt
Robert Hobbs .... Van Deventer
Lwando Nondzaba .... Peter Makeba
Trix Pienaar .... B&B Lady
Greg Latter .... Sgt. Dreyer
Albert Maritz .... Farmer
Sizwe Msutu .... Gilbert
Dumisani Mbebe .... Kenneth
Sunu Gonera .... Lionel
Nick Boraine .... Jack Marlon
Charley Boorman .... Adam Hartley
Connie Chiume .... Mrs. Tabata
Seumus Keir .... Simon
Nicholas Andrews .... Chris
Justin Creasy .... Chris
Junior Singo .... Troy
Yolanda Methvin .... Deborah
Grant Swanby .... Johan
Chris Auty .... executive producer
Sam Bhembe .... executive producer
John Boorman .... producer
Jamie Brown .... executive producer
Robert Chartoff .... producer
Kieran Corrigan .... producer
Peter Fudakowski .... associate producer
Michael L. Games .... line producer
Niles E. Helmboldt .... associate producer
Lynn Hendee .... producer
Mike Medavoy .... producer
Neil Peplow .... executive producer
Duncan Reid .... executive producer
Mfundi Vundla .... executive producer
David Wicht .... co-producer: South Africa
Cinematography by Seamus Deasy
Film Editing by Ron Davis
MPAA: Rated R for language,
including descriptions of atrocities, and for a scene of violence.
Runtime: UK:100 min / USA:104 min
For rating reasons, go to FILMRATINGS.COM,
Parents, please refer to PARENTALGUIDE.ORG
Media Player, Hi-Res
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of My Skull : Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness
in the New South Africa
by ANTJIE KROG
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drama set against the backdrop of the South African Truth and Reconciliation
Commission hearings, “In My Country” charts the lowest
depths of pain and suffering and reveals the redeeming power of forgiveness
1996, the South African government established the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission (TRC) to investigate abuses of human rights under Apartheid.
Under the chairmanship of Nobel Peace laureate, Archbishop Desmond
Tutu, the commission was mandated to examine acts committed between
March 1960, the date of the Sharpeville massacre, and May 10, 1994,
the day of Mandela's inauguration as president.
accordance with the African principle of “Ubuntu,” which
strives to create harmony amongst all people by absolving transgressions,
rather than seeking retribution, the commission set up a series
of hearings throughout the country to help heal the wounds of Apartheid.
The hearings would serve as a forum for the perpetrators of murder
and torture during the apartheid era to come forward and confront
their victims. By telling the unvarnished truth and expressing contrition,
they might be granted amnesty, if they could prove that their crimes
were politically motivated – that they were only following
Whitfield (Samuel L. Jackson) is a Washington Post journalist, sent
to South Africa to cover the TRC hearings. He is apprehensive about
the trip, as he his skeptical about the process of reconciliation
– feeling that it is just a way for the perpetrators to escape
without punishment. Anna Malan (Juliette Binoche) is an Afrikaans
poet covering the hearings for South African state radio and NPR
in the US. Anna is enthusiastic about the process before them, having
great reverence for her native African traditions, and great hopes
to see her country healed. Thrown together as members of the international
press corps, Langston and Anna meet and are instantly at odds over
their opposing views of the hearings. But over time, their shared
experience of listening to the moving and painful testimony brings
them ever closer.
searching for a more sensational angle for his story, Langston tracks
down Col. De Jager (Brendan Gleeson), the most notorious torturer
in the SA Police, and tries to penetrate the mind of a monster.
Unexpectedly, the experience forces him to confront his own demons
and leads to the discovery of a devastating connection between Anna
and the perpetrators of violence.
Langston becomes increasingly drawn into Anna’s world and
her passion for the country of her birth, they are both led to question
their sense of identity. Where do they each belong? How responsible
are they for what is done in the name of their respective countries?
In My Country depicts the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, and it’s DVD version is released hot on the heals of Hotel Rwanda. The two movies share much in common: the central thread revolves around the brutality of those in a position of authority against the helpless. This movie is driven by the characters played by Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche, as the two experience the hearings first hand and explore their feelings.
Langston Whitfield (Jackson) shows up at the hearings, sent by the Washington Post to report back to a country that seems less interested in the reconciliation process than one would hope. Whitfield’s own latent anger bleeds out in his reports back to the U.S. and in his discussion of the proceedings with Anna Malan (Juliette Binoche). Anna’s own feelings are complicated as she reports on the proceedings by radio, as her beloved country shows signs of cracking.
Anna admits that she knew what was happening to people during apartheid, but struggles with an “everyone was doing it mentality.” Her guilt covers her like a fog and Langston has no sympathy at first. As they watch the proceedings, they learn important lessons from an orphaned boy’s response to the murderous cop who confesses and from an old man who tells them that ‘what hurts me, hurts us all.’ Here are key ingredients of Jesus’ teachings to us: to turn the other cheek, to repent for our mistakes, and to treat others as we would be treated. Unfortunately, the two reporters also slide into an adulterous affair at the same time.
While trying to deal with his rage over the stories that he hears, Langston is told by Anna’s assistant, Dumi Mkhalipi (Menzi Ngubane) that not everything is black and white, but that sometimes there is grey. How we define our worldview can determine our understanding of black, white, and grey, but in the movie’s depiction of apartheid and the aftermath, everyone shoulders blame because no one is innocent. Rather than being judgmental, Langston is forced to recognize his own faults—only Anna gets this more clearly.
Langston stops from killing Colonel Henry De Jager (Brendan Gleason) during one of their interviews because of the model presented to him by two people: the old man who shared his story and Anna who takes the shame of the whole country on herself. Once again, the gospel of Jesus Christ shines through. Sharing truth in the form of the story makes for easier understanding and provides those who were not present to learn from the mistakes of the past. (Now, if we could only remember the Holocaust and be changed…maybe we could avoid our continual perpetuation of these annihilations.) And Anna’s ‘wearing’ of the shame is Christlike, as He bore our sins upon Himself, dying the death on the cross. Anna’s ability to move on and see the hope that awaits Africa is also Christlike, because in His resurrection, we can believe in hope and a future.
Before Anna gets to hope, she is forced to recognize her own mistakes—and once again, a story (from her mother) teaches her that any lie concealed will ultimately betray the whole truth. The scene depicting Anna’s reconciliation with her husband is painful but is necessary to show yet again the microcosm that the truth hearings depict in the thousands. Unfortunately for Langston and Dumi experience the perpetuation of violence, this time black on black. No one is safe from guilt when bad decisions are made. Now if only we could learn from stories like this and live in peace with one another…In My Country, a mansion, a Kingdom, a real place?
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