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Cry, the Beloved Country

(1951 b 96')

En: 5 Ed: 6

Alan Paton adapted his novel about a black priest who learns that his sister has become a prostitute and that his son has robbed and killed a man who was helping black Africans.

         In South Africa a little girl brings a letter to the priest Stephen Kumalo (Canada Lee). He tells his wife that his sister in Johannesburg needs his help, but they have not heard from their son. A neighbor tells Stephen that his son has not returned to work for Jarvis and asks him to find him. Frank Smith shows James Jarvis (Charles Carson) a newspaper that shows his son shaking hands with a black man. James is upset but does not tell his ailing wife Margaret Jarvis (Joyce Carey).

         Stephen takes a train. Blacks see the mines and talk about them. Stephen gets off the train and gives a man money to buy him a ticket, but he disappears. Stephen is welcomed by Rev. Msimangu (Sidney Poitier) and others at the mission. He tells Stephen that his sister has had many men but is now destitute.

         Msimangu takes Stephen to see his sister Gertrude (Ribbon Dhlamini), and he says she is a prostitute. Stephen visits his brother John Kumalo (Edric Connor) and asks about his son Matthew.

         Msimangu and Stephen look for Stephen’s son Absolom Kumalo and learn he was sent to a reformatory. Martens (Michael Goodliffe), the probation officer, says that Absolom got a woman pregnant. She says she has not seen Absolom since Saturday, and they learn he has not been at his job.

         Absolom Kumalo (Lionel Ngakane), Matthew Kumalo, and another man mask their faces, and during the robbery a man is shot. Police learn that Robert Jarvis was killed by natives. An officer tells James Jarvis that his son was murdered. James and his wife fly to the city.

         A priest tells Stephen to pray and rest, and he offers to help him. James reads his son’s writings and shows them to his wife. James has a change of heart. He sees Stephen and asks him what he needs. Stephen says that his son killed James’s son. James says that he is not angry.

         A judge acquits Matthew and the other man, but he convicts Absolom and sentences him to be hanged. As he leaves, James gives a man a thousand pounds for his club.

         In a village blacks sing for Stephen. During a rainstorm James rides his horse. Stephen prays and learns that his sister is dead. Stephen wants to grieve and sends white flowers. James tells Stephen that his wife has died, and he wants to build a church for him. At dawn Stephen realizes that his son has been executed.

         This drama about apartheid society is an unusual story of redemption and hope despite the dark times and miserable social conditions.

Copyright © 2007 by Sanderson Beck

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