Director Richard Attenborough’s adaptation of Donald Woods’ book about black activist Stephen Biko (Denzel Washington), head of the Black Consciousness Movement is now available on DVD and for the first time ever on Blu-Ray. The tension and the terror of a recent South Africa is powerfully portrayed in this acclaimed film. Cry Freedom tells the story of the unforgettable friendship of two iconic men. It stars Denzel Washington, Kevin Kline, Penelope Wilton, Alec McCowen, Kevin McNally, Ian Richardson, John Thaw, Zakes Mokae and Timothy West.
After learning of apartheid’s true horrors through Biko’s eyes, liberal white newspaper editor Donald Woods (Kevin Kline) discovers that his friend has been silenced by the police. Determined not to let Biko’s message go unheard, Woods undertakes a perilous quest to escape South Africa and bring Biko’s tale of courage to the world. This riveting, true story offers a stirring account of man at his most evil and most heroic.
Yoi can pre-order HERE.
The film was mainly shot in Zimbabwe (as South Africa was still under the apartheid regime). The film was released in South Africa in 1988 after winning approval from government censors to be shown there. However, a few hours after the first showing the Minister of Justice, Hendrick J. Coetsee, said Cry Freedom violated the law against quoting banned persons, such as Woods. The police commissioner dispatched officers and the film reels were seized from at least 30 theatres nationwide.
Denzel Washington, was Oscar-nominated for his role. The film also features Penelope Wilton as Wendy Woods, John Thaw, Timothy West, Julian Glover, Ian Richardson, Josette Simon and Zakes Mokae.
Woods lived in exile for 13 years, giving 462 lectures at universities and colleges in America alone; he briefed 37 western governments about apartheid; he was invited to address the UN Security Council – the first ever issued to a private citizen and he received numerous awards and honorary degrees. In 2000 Woods was surprised by Michael Aspel when he became the subject of This is Your Life as well as being awarded a CBE from the Queen. He died of cancer on 19 August 2001 in London.
A statue of Biko was erected in South Africa in 1997 with donations from Denzel Washington, Kevin Kline, Peter Gabriel (who wrote the anti-apartheid song Biko in 1980) and Richard Branson. The money was donated at the behest of Donald Woods.