Cry, the Beloved Country (1995 film)

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Cry, the Beloved Country
Cry the beloved country ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Darrell Roodt
Produced by Anant Singh
Harry Alan Towers
Written by Ronald Harwood
Alan Paton (novel)
Joshua Sinclair
Starring James Earl Jones
Richard Harris
Charles S. Dutton
Music by John Barry
Cinematography Paul Gilpin
Edited by David Heitner
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release date
  • 15 December 1995 (1995-12-15)
Running time
106 minutes
Country South Africa
United States
Language English
Budget $4 million
Box office $676,525 (USA) (sub-total)

Cry, the Beloved Country is a 1995 South African-American drama film directed by Darrell Roodt, based on the novel Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. It stars James Earl Jones and Richard Harris.

The film was made in 1995, shortly after the fall of apartheid and the free election of Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa.


Set in South Africa in October 1946, before the implementation of apartheid, this is the story of church minister Steven Kumalo who is requested from his village to Johannesburg.[1] There he discovers that his son Absolom has been arrested for the murder of a white man, the white man's father James Jarvis, supports apartheid. When the two meet, they come to unexpected understandings about their sons and their own humanity.

Selected cast[edit]

Although this is a South African film, the majority of the main characters in the movie are played by Westerners, specifically Americans.


The score was composed by veteran English composer John Barry, who dedicated it to Nelson Mandela. It has been described by film score reviewer Christian Clemmensen of as "one of Barry's last truly enjoyable efforts."[2] Barry, who had previously composed music for such African themed films as Zulu (1964), Born Free (1966), and Out of Africa (1985), used predominantly western musical styles to complete the score. The music is notable for referencing themes from Barry's previous work on Zulu, augmenting the original warlike compositions into a somber piano theme for travel scenes.[2][3] The film also features the song "Exile" by Enya.

The music was performed by the English Chamber Orchestra and recorded in Studio One at the EMI Abbey Road Studios, London.


The film was shot on location in KwaZulu Natal, Cape Province, and at Gauteng, South Africa.


Cry, the Beloved Country received a mostly positive response from critics and holds an 85% "Fresh" rating from the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.[4]

Online critic James Berardinelli gave the film four out of four stars, and described the performances of Harris and Jones as "superb," concluding "Rarely does a motion picture touch the heart so deeply, with no hint of artifice or manipulation."[5] Stephen Holden of The New York Times also wrote favorably of the film, commenting "In a moment as transcendent as it is risky, the screen erupts with a volcanic emotion that cuts through the prevailing high-minded contemplation. Why risky? Because movies have become so invested in the unleashing of violent emotion and the escalation of hostility, that expressions of restraint, reconciliation and forgiveness can easily be read as corny cop-outs. Cry, the Beloved Country is not corny, and it doesn't cop out."[3]

Conversely, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times had a less positive view of the film, giving it only two and half out of four stars, and commenting, "The film has genuine qualities, its photography and tone evoke a South Africa that is indeed beloved by its inhabitants ('If the climate and the landscape were not so beautiful, we would have had a revolution 50 years ago,' Paton is said to have observed). The performances by Jones and Harris have a quiet dignity, suitable to the characters if not reflecting a larger reality, but the film contains little that would have concerned the South African censors under apartheid. [...] Cry, the Beloved Country reflects a sentimentality that motivates many people, but it fails as a portrait of what it used to be like in South Africa, what happened and what it's like now."[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • NAACP Image Awards
    • Outstanding Motion Picture (Nominated)
    • Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture: James Earl Jones (Nominated)
    • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: Charles S. Dutton (Nominated)


  1. ^ "Cry, the Beloved Country summary". Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Clemmensen, Christian (25 August 2008) [24 September 1996]. "Cry, the Beloved Country soundtrack review". Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (15 December 1995). "Cry, the Beloved Country". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  4. ^ "Cry, the Beloved Country". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  5. ^ Berardinelli, James. "Cry, the Beloved Country". ReelViews. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger (20 December 1995). "Cry, the Beloved Country". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 

External links[edit]