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Endgame (DVD Review)

11 Jan, 2010 By: John Latchem


Prebook 1/12/10; Street 2/9/10
Box Office $0.008 million
$26.95 DVD
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence/disturbing images and some strong language.
Stars William Hurt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jonny Lee Miller, Mark Strong.

The shame of apartheid defined the national identity of South Africa for nearly 50 years. Endgame chronicles the process of negotiation that eventually led to the country abandoning decades of racist oppression by giving the majority black population a voice in the election process.

By 1985, terrorist acts by the black-supported African National Congress (ANC) had pushed South Africa to the verge of a race war. With the system of minority rule endangered, the government imposed harsher controls, which only exacerbated the conflict.

Hoping to broker a solution, British businessman Michael Young (Jonny Lee Miller), on behalf of a mining consortium with interests in South Africa, arranges for secret talks between representatives of the ruling Afrikaner class, led by professor Will Esterhuyse (William Hurt), and the ANC, led by Thabo Mbeki (Chiwetel Ejiofor).

In the meantime, South African president Botha (Timothy West) seeks to diffuse the effectiveness of the meetings by sending his intelligence director to speak with the imprisoned hero of the ANC, Nelson Mandela (Clarke Peters).

Those not familiar with the complexities of South African political history may have trouble figuring out who’s who as the parade of historical figures is gradually introduced. This could make the proceedings seem boring, as the bulk of the film is essentially people sitting around a table and talking.

The strength of the piece rests in the exquisite acting, particularly by Golden Globe-nominee Ejiofor.

The DVD includes a series of interviews with the cast and crew, each discussing what the project meant to them. Hurt’s interview, for example, turns into a discussion about the acting process, in particular playing a character based on a real person. Director Pete Travis, on the other hand, is more interested in mining a message that can relate to today’s world. In the process of reconciliation, Travis has found his universal truth.

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