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The Power of One (film)
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''The Power of One'' is a 1992
drama film In film and television show, television, drama is a category of narrative fiction (or docudrama, semi-fiction) intended to be more serious than humour, humorous in tone. Drama of this kind is usually qualified with additional terms that specify ...
loosely based on Bryce Courtenay's 1989 novel of the same name. Set in
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 59 million people, it is the world's List of countries by population, 23rd-most populous nation a ...
during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great ...
, the film centers on the life of Peter Philip Kenneth-Keith, an English South African boy raised under
apartheid Apartheid (South African English: ; , segregation; lit. "aparthood") was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa and South West Africa (now Namibia) from 1948 until the early 1990s. Apartheid wa ...
, and his conflicted relationships with a German pianist, a Coloured boxing coach and an Afrikaner romantic interest. Directed and edited by John G. Avildsen, the film stars Stephen Dorff,
John Gielgud Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH (; 14 April 1904 – 21 May 2000) was an English actor and theatre director whose career spanned eight decades. With Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier, he was one of the trinity of actors who dominated ...
,
Morgan Freeman Morgan Freeman (born June 1, 1937) is an American actor, director, and narrator. He has appeared in a range of film genres portraying Character actor, character roles and is particularly known for his distinctive deep voice. Freeman is the rec ...
,
Armin Mueller-Stahl
Armin Mueller-Stahl
, and
Daniel Craig Daniel Wroughton Craig (born 2 March 1968) is an English actor. He is best known for playing James Bond The ''James Bond'' series focuses on a fictional British Secret Service agent created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming Ian Lancas ...
in his feature film debut.


Plot

Born in 1930 to a recently widowed Englishwoman on a homestead in South Africa, little Peter Philip is schooled in the ways of England by his mother and the ways of Africa by a Zulu nanny, whose son Tonderai is also his best friend. Their easy life is forever shattered, however, when the farm's cattle are claimed by ''
rinderpest Rinderpest (also cattle plague or steppe murrain) was an infectious viral disease of cattle, domestic buffalo, and many other species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank ...
''. PK's mother succumbs to a nervous breakdown, and he is sent away to a conservative
Afrikaans File:WIKITONGUES- Alaric speaking Afrikaans.webm, Alaric speaking Afrikaans. Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language spoken in South Africa, Namibia and, to a lesser extent, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It evolved ...
boarding school while she recovers. Being the only English student at the boarding school, PK soon earns almost universal contempt from his scathing Afrikaners, Afrikaner fellows—particularly from Jaapie Botha, an older student. Botha's abuse and his inferiority complex strikes PK with a severe case of nocturnal enuresis, a habit which he eventually overcomes with local Traditional healers of Southern Africa, sangoma Dabula Manzi. In conquering his nightmares, PK is given a chicken (''Mother Courage''), which becomes his closest companion. Botha subsequently captures PK and Mother Courage and has them tried before a mock court while elaborating on the depth of his hatred for the British—a people he holds responsible for atrocities committed during the Second Boer War. The Afrikaans boys hang Mother Courage and kill her with a rock. When PK physically retaliates against Botha, they attempt to execute him in a similar manner but are interrupted by a teacher who later oversees Botha's expulsion. With his mother dying, PK finds himself living with his grandfather in Barberton, Mpumalanga, Barberton. He eventually seeks a mentor in Karl "Doc" von Vollensteen, a lonely Germans, German musician who lost his family in Europe. Doc warms to PK and under his guidance PK soon becomes an excellent pianist. He is interned as an enemy alien at the onset of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great ...
, but PK continues to visit him regularly in prison. Doc introduces the boy to Geel Piet, a Cape Coloureds, Cape Coloured inmate who trains him to be an excellent boxer. Piet also impresses on PK his mantra: "first with the head, then with the heart". A maturing PK begins to express sympathy towards black prisoners, who are detained under appalling conditions. He works with Doc to distribute contraband among the Africans, writes their letters to home, and shares their many sufferings. The war does not end happily for PK, as Doc is repatriated and Piet is killed by a white warder. PK goes to study at the prestigious Prince of Wales School in Johannesburg. While attending a boxing championship, he is enamoured by Maria Marais, daughter of a leading National Party (South Africa), National Party official. Since her strict father will not permit them to see each other, they begin dating in secret. On one such outing they are introduced to Gideon Duma, a prominent boxer in Alexandra, Gauteng, Alexandra, a black township. Duma's passion for resisting
apartheid Apartheid (South African English: ; , segregation; lit. "aparthood") was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa and South West Africa (now Namibia) from 1948 until the early 1990s. Apartheid wa ...
inspires PK, and he begins teaching English at an African school. Maria's father, incensed by the couple's ongoing relationship and PK's ties to a multiracial gym, leads him to request a formal investigation by one of his South African Police contacts, Colonel Breyten. Breyten and his sergeant, an embittered Jaapie Botha, place PK under surveillance for subversion. His clashes with the police (which result in detainment of numerous people he knows) come to a head when Duma is severely injured and Maria is killed during a raid on their school in a conservative church along with numerous other innocent people. Maddened by grief, PK considers going to study at Oxford in England, but is consoled by a recovering Duma who shows him that all his teachings have finally shown progress and reminds him of all the good he can still do in Africa. Botha leads a violent raid on Alexandra the following night which results in Breyten's death at the hands of an enraged villager. Botha threatens to shoot Elias Mlungisi, the local boxing promoter, only to be confronted by PK. They fight, and PK easily beats his childhood enemy. A vindictive Botha is still bent on killing him with a hidden pistol, but an arriving Gideon Duma dispatches the policeman with a cricket bat before he can fire. Now wanted fugitives from the apartheid government, PK and Duma vow to continue a campaign against racial injustice with the aid of the other survivors. PK's closing narration identifies meaningful voices during his life, from his nanny, to Doc and Geel Piet, Dabula Manzi, and (finally) Maria.


Cast

* Guy Witcher as PK at age 7 *Simon Fenton as PK at age 12 * Stephen Dorff as PK at age 18 *
Armin Mueller-Stahl
Armin Mueller-Stahl
as Doc *Jeremiah Mnisi as Dabula Manzi *Ian Roberts (South African actor), Ian Roberts as Hoppie Gruenewald *
John Gielgud Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH (; 14 April 1904 – 21 May 2000) was an English actor and theatre director whose career spanned eight decades. With Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier, he was one of the trinity of actors who dominated ...
as St. John, the Headmaster *Fay Masterson as Maria Marais *
Morgan Freeman Morgan Freeman (born June 1, 1937) is an American actor, director, and narrator. He has appeared in a range of film genres portraying Character actor, character roles and is particularly known for his distinctive deep voice. Freeman is the rec ...
as Geel Piet *
Daniel Craig Daniel Wroughton Craig (born 2 March 1968) is an English actor. He is best known for playing James Bond The ''James Bond'' series focuses on a fictional British Secret Service agent created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming Ian Lancas ...
as Sergeant Jaapie Botha *Robbie Bulloch as the teenage Botha *Dominic Walker (actor), Dominic Walker as Morrie Gilbert *Faith Edwards as Miriam Sisulu *Alois Moyo as Gideon Duma *Brian O'Shaughnessy (actor), Brian O'Shaughnessy as Colonel Breyten *Marius Weyers as Professor Daniel Marais *Clive Russell as Sergeant Bormann *Winston Ntshona as Mlungisi *Nomadlozi Kubheka as Nanny *Mark Clements as school boy


Critical reception

The film received mixed reviews. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes currently ranks the film at a 39% 'rotten' rating based on 18 reviews, with an weighted arithmetic mean, average score of 4.96/10. Roger Ebert of the ''Chicago Sun-Times'' gave it two and a half stars out of four, stating that the nature of troubles of South Africa "are too complex to be reduced to a formula in which everything depends on who shoots who", but did add "there are some nice touches," such as the locations and Gielgud's performance. Morgan Freeman later said in an interview that the film "wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be."


Soundtrack


References


External links

*
''The Power of One''
at Rotten Tomatoes * {{DEFAULTSORT:Power Of One 1992 films 1992 drama films 1990s sports films American films American boxing films American drama films Apartheid films Cold War films Films about bullying Films about racism Films about race and ethnicity Films based on Australian novels Films directed by John G. Avildsen Films scored by Hans Zimmer Films set in South Africa Films shot in Zimbabwe Films with screenplays by Robert Mark Kamen Regency Enterprises films StudioCanal films Village Roadshow Pictures films Warner Bros. films