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Goodbye Bafana


Stars: Joseph Fiennes, Dennis Haysbert, Diane Kruger

Director: Bille August

The story of Nelson Mandela's years in prison forms the core of a human drama that lacks dynamism and depth, but still remains absorbing practically throughout.

Jmaes Gregory (Fiennes) is an Afrikaaner prison warder with a young family. His knowledge of the native African language Xhosa propels him to Robben Island, where Mandela is being held, to become the eyes and ears of intelligence in Capetown.

Watching bridges being blown up and police stations bombed by black militants, Gregory is initially hostile, like his fellow warders, to the island's captives. Over the years, his attitudes soften, and he becomes guilt-ridden over what may have been his contribution to Mandela's son's death. He reads the banned freedom charter of the African National Congress.

When Mandela is moved to more comfortable prisons, Gregory is assigned to follow.

This rather long film does provide Fiennes with his best role since Shakespeare in Love, and his clipped South African accent sounds fine to the untrained ear. Haysbert is a little on the large side for a physical resemblance to Mandela, but he invests the role with his customary dignity.

David Quinlan

Germany/South Africa/France/Belgium/Italy 2006. UK Distributor: Paramount. Duboicolor.
118 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 05 May 2007