Today has been an odd day for my blogging. In lieu of watching this in the comfort of my own home, the planned 12-14 hour drive between Minneapolis and my hometown have forced me to do something... a bit more stupid. I popped this DVD into my trusty laptop and let it play while I cruised down I-94. I'm writing this from a Barnes & Noble (all hail the free wifi)... and pretending like I'm actually going to be a customer, so I hope y'all appreciate the extra effort. As if, Barnes & Noble. I have a NOOK, I don't buy books anymore.
I try really hard not to hold a movie accountable to the book that it is based on. I’m probably going to fail a bit with The Power of One, because its inspiration, the book of the same name by Bryce Courtenay, is my favorite book, without competition. I was in high school when this movie came out and my parents dragged me to see it because they’d won free tickets from a local (and lame) radio station.
Quite simply, this movie changed my life. It started a fascination with Africa in general and South Africa in particular that I still feel to this day. It led to me realizing that one person can actually make a difference and that each individual should… expect to see their stamp on everything they get involved in. This movie is why I chose to spend my required time abroad during college in South Africa it all kind of snowballed from there.
This is a movie about triumphing over all the hardships that life throws our way, and about doing it without losing your sense of self and it’s about learning that lesson at an early age and having it repeated fairly frequently throughout your life. The cast is remarkable, although with the exception of Stephen Dorff, Armin Mueller-Stahl, and Morgan Freeman, much of the cast is relegated to cameo parts. I also liked Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Jaapie Botha, the antagonist of the film (and one of Craig’s earliest film parts). The story flows nicely and the adaptation cuts through a lot of the African mystic stuff that occurs in the end of the book, making this a much better fit for an American audience.
I’m always a bit sad after watching this movie because it reminds me that apartheid was real, but it helps to know that even in the apartheid days there were people who could have said nothing who chose to stand up to the National government in South Africa. “Peekay,” the lead role here, may not have been a real person, but I suspect there were many British-born South Africans who grew up in the 40s and 50s who chose to fight against what they thought was wrong with their country, in whatever way they could.
I don’t think there’s anyone who can’t take a positive moral out of this story, or fail to be moved at least a little. Check it out. You won’t be disappointed.