Review: ‘The Power of One’

Bryce Courtenay's South African coming-of-age novel is brought to the screen with mixed success in this lushly mounted production. On the one hand a captivating and inspiring tale of a boy's journey to courage amid searing injustice, pic often gives way to scenes of intense violence that are likely to bludgeon the very sensibilities it seeks to awaken.

Bryce Courtenay’s South African coming-of-age novel is brought to the screen with mixed success in this lushly mounted production. On the one hand a captivating and inspiring tale of a boy’s journey to courage amid searing injustice, pic often gives way to scenes of intense violence that are likely to bludgeon the very sensibilities it seeks to awaken.

In 1930s Zimbabwe, young white P.K. is orphaned and sent to a boarding school. The only English boy among Afrikaaners, he is treated brutally, a victim of the bitter struggle among the two colonizing groups for control of South Africa. Kindly German composer and botanist Doc (Armin Mueller-Stahl) educates his mind, and dignified black prisoner Geel Piet (Morgan Freeman) teaches P.K. to defend himself in the boxing ring.

Piet molds P.K. into a boxing champion and spreads word among the hundreds of other black prisoners that he’s the legendary Rainmaker, come to make peace. As P.K. grows up (played admirably at age 18 by Californian Stephen Dorff), he decides to fulfill that destiny, defying the brutally racist regime.

Beautifully produced and gorgeously shot on location in Zimbabwe by lenser Dean Semler, picture has depth, dimension and first-rate casting.

The Power of One

Production

Regency/Canal Plus/Alcor. Director John G. Avildsen; Producer Arnon Milchan; Screenplay Robert Mark Kamen; Camera Dean Semler; Editor John G. Avildsen; Music Hans Zimmer; Art Director Roger Hall

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1992. Running time: 111 MIN.

With

Stephen Dorff Armin Mueller-Stahl Morgan Freeman John Gielgud Maria Marais Simon Fenton

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading