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Parents' Guide to

Cry Freedom

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

'80s drama about apartheid has violence, language.

Movie PG 1987 157 minutes
Cry Freedom Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 8+

Based on 1 parent review

age 8+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

This film gets so much right in its re-creation of horrific racist practices by a white supremacist government. However, the choice of focusing mostly on the bravery of a white man advocating for the equality of downtrodden blacks smells a bit of the kind of paternalism that blacks were trying to shake free of. It's not that Donald Woods' acts of defiance and bravery aren't worthy of a movie. And Kevin Kline does a fine job of showing how even a man of good intentions and high principles can idiotically get things wrong and still be humble enough to correct himself and then do the right thing. But, in comparison, the risks that black South Africans like Steven Biko and so many others took in their quest for freedom were so much greater, and they seem a bit marginalized in a film with a white hero. Denzel Washington gives a nuanced performance, but his role as the smiling corrector of wrongheaded whites reduces the importance of who he was and what he did to promote his people's fight for equality. Plus he dies in the first half of Cry Freedom.

Young viewers may find it hard to watch atrocities committed by whites in the name of keeping their country "pure" and out of the hands of what they classify as "inferior" people. But they will probably appreciate when Biko counters accusations of black savagery in "tribal" wars with, "What do you call World War I and World War II?"

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