Monday, May 30, 2005

Movie: Red Dust

Sadly, I know little about South Africa's Apartheid other than that a conservative white minority ruled over a black majority in a system of extreme racial segregation, hatred, and human rights violations. The film focused on the later, following a black South African MP (that's Member o' Parliament to Yanks who don't know better) returning to his hometown to challenge a call for amnesty by a police chief who beat him severely in jail - for 31 straight days. The MP also wants to know what happened to an activist friend who disappeared at the same time.

The Truth and Reconcilliation Committee travels the country with former human rights abusers like this police chief, and if they fully disclose their crimes, they receive amnesty for them and cannot be prosecuted for human rights violations. The MP believes the police chief is lying, and challenges him. Old wounds reopen, secrets come out, and the entire town learns some things not only about their white oppressors but about their black leader as well.

But the film's theme is one of the power of forgiveness. It's a striking and powerful message, if a little tired, but given an excellent real-life vehicle to grow in Red Dust. As Liz mentioned on the way home, the real strength of forgiveness is not for the person being forgiven, but for the person doing the forgiving: a quote by Archbishop Tutu at the end of the film mentioning that the reason doors are closed on the past is not so that it can be forgotten but so that it doesn't become a prison serves as an excellent cap to the movie.

It's not one I would watch many times, but it's certainly worth seeing.

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