The movie “Cry Freedom” focuses on the friendship between a white liberal South African editor, Donald Woods and an idealistic young black leader, Steve Biko, who later dies due to hunger strike at the hands of the South African police.
Woods, initially labeled Biko as a “black racist”, changes his views after a personal approach with Biko. Even though he has family commitments, Woods took the challenge to fight against apartheid together with his trusted friend, Gusto and goes through great lenth to promote Biko’s view of equality among the Black and White populations of South Africa.
Relationship – Biko & Woods
The relationship between Biko and Woods started through an emissary, whom arranged the meeting between the both of them. Due to the fact that Biko was banned, he is only able to meet one person at a time in the same room. Aside from most Whites in South Africa, Woods is one of those who approach this racial issue with openness and acceptance. Although Woods may have a hidden agenda for the meeting at first (story to write for his newspaper to gain more readers), but through his experience in the African “township”, his perspective has changed.
Biko and Woods shares a true friendship, even though they are not allowed to be seen in public. Both of them seem to have managed keeping in contact, either via telephone or through emissaries, their friendship is a learning curve for both parties, creating understanding and trust.
The incident that triggered the Woods’ change of heart is the gradual experience that he is exposed to, seeing the lives of the blacks living in the townships first hand, something which the few whites Africans have done.
Although in the movie, Biko played with quiet power, he is seen primarily through the eyes of Woods, admired and respected by many.
Relationship – Family
Both Biko and Woods are fortunate to have such supportive families. Although there may be some ups and downs in Woods family, facing the contemplation of the family’s safely or the lives of the many black Africans, Woods manages his family with love, respect and understanding. The fact that the movie focuses on Woods family moving from their home to another state, I was surprised that the kids were understanding and clever to speak only when needed.
The scene where Mrs Woods registered hers and her children’s name at the immigration triggered my emotions, wondering if the children are going to speak aloud that their name or birth date weren’t their real ones, which might cause the plan if the officers find out. Thank god it was in the 80s whereby the security were not as tight as currently, the family was easily released without having much trouble.
Aside from Biko’s wife and son, Biko has many trusted friends that he has rather much consider them as family. He is fortunate to have many people that truly respect him, that will sacrifice their life for his protection. Biko’s stand against apartheid has truly created a strong unity between all the blacks.
Generally, watching injustices such as the apartheid that occurred in South Africa, gets conscious about the world around me. The focus of the movie was leading towards Woods instead of the Biko. When Biko dies, the rest of the story centers on Woods, I was hoping to be able to understand Biko’s life and plan better. However, overall the movie has successful captured many of my emotions, such as afraid, sympathy, worry, happy and others. The movie ended into a cliff-hanger when Woods flew out to the mountains to share Biko’s story to the World and some of these questions continues to stir in my heart, 1) How does the Whites dominate South Africa when 70% of the Africans are Blacks? 2) At the end of the movie, it shows that Woods’ maid, Evelyn knew that the family was leaving, therefore she was reluctant to take a look at Mrs Woods when she said goodbye. But why did the maid told the dog that something was wrong when she checked the cupboard at the end? Was it for the recording of the polices or she was really confused?