...engaging and discerning culture, as a way of life...

February 15, 2007

Catch a Fire - 7

The preview of this film did not excite me. It seemed like it was trying to turn a historical narrative about South African apartheid into a Hollywood action film. I was pleasantly surprised to find this film a much more nuanced and inspiring story than advertised. The movies starts out as the usual tension between an apolitical Patrick (Derek Luke), who has a young family and though he sees the injustice of apartheid realizes that his resistance would jeopardize the little happiness he and his family have. So he goes to his job at an oil refinery and coaches soccer. It is only after Nic (Tim Robbins), a white policeman on the search for terrorists, brings him in for questioning and torture that he recognizes the politics of his life. Through this he comes to be an activist and joins rebels in Mozambique only to return later to try to fight against apartheid in South Africa. The cat and mouse then begin for real and bombs go off. The end of the film then becomes a history lesson as the film moves forward to the release of prisoners of Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was also imprisoned. The film then concludes with the ultimate decision between revenge and forgiveness, foreshadowing what was to come in South Africa- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

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