Goodbye Bafana (Ger, Fr, Bel, S. Africa, It, UK, Lux, 2007)

White man's story

White man's story

Why is it that the stories about apartheid we get to see, in the UK at least, are the white man’s story? The economic racism of the film industry, of course, explains this but it does make watching films like Goodbye Bafana a slightly uncomfortable experience. The proper story is of the ANC’s struggle and this can be readily told via the character of Mandela; here we only get tantalising references to the fight against the racist regime. Mandela’s own story has been in development for years but it looks like it will get told now Clint Eastwood is attached; however, according to the internet movie database, this will focus on the post-apartheid years!

Haysbert is terrific as Mandela; how do you play a saint? Of course, no-one is a saint and Mandela, according to my partner, was far more bolshie than he’s shown here. Joseph Fiennes, an actor I’ve never warmed to, is also terrific but I’m not interested in how he regains his humanity (the film is based on the prison guard’s book whose authenticity has been doubted).

A film to see because we get an inkling about the realities of apartheid. But we don’t get to hear how, for many years, western governments supported the S.African government, or how many politicians dubbed the ANC terrorists. Does anyone know of a film that does this?

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