Europa Cinema > 18:00


Zoltán Korda


Saturday 01/07/2023


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Among the great directors of imperial cinema, Zoltán Korda was undoubtedly the most prolific, having repeatedly and almost obsessively depicted different parts of the British Empire and their populations. Nigeria, India, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Kenya and South Africa provided places, peoples and cultures for his more or less fantastical historical frescoes. Ever since his debut, Korda displayed a quietly liberal and progressive respect for other cultures, a respect that he also brought to Hollywood when he had to relocate to America during the Second World War… The Zoltan Korda film which best encapsulates an entire era of imperial cinema and its liberal phase – was Cry, the Beloved Country, based on the book of the same name by Alan Paton, the author of the screenplay together with John Howard Lawson, and co-producer together with the Kordas. Zoltan Korda immediately fell in love with the project and decided that this time he would avoid any compromise with the imperialistic inclinations of his brother, Alexander… Making the film in apartheid-era South Africa was itself an enormous challenge: blacks and whites could not cohabit, the blacks (be they native to the country, or foreigners) were subject to restrictions of movement and work. In order to work alongside the white cast and crew, Sidney Poitier and Canada Lee had to request a temporary immigration permit as Korda’s domestic servants…
The film is unquestionably South African, and it documents a precise historical situation; however, it also uses that reality in order to stigmatise segregation and the resultant class distinctions in general, not forgetting the fact that in 1951, much of the United States was also subject to urban segregation in schools, workplaces, public transport and the right to vote. It undoubtedly also denounces both the disasters which the Empire brought upon its colonies and its legacy of racism and economic injustice.

Armando Pajalich, Il bianco, il nero, il colore. Cinema dell’Impero Britannico e delle sue ex-colonie 1929-1972, Le lettere, Florence 2008

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1948) di Alan Paton. Scen.: Alan Paton, John Howard Lawson. F.: Robert Krasker. M.: David Eady. Scgf.: Wilfred Shingleton. Mus.: Raymond Gallois-Montbrun. Int.: Canada Lee (Stephen Kumalo), Charles Carson (James Jarvis), Sidney Poitier (reverendo Msimangu), Joyce Carey (signora Jarvis), Geoffrey Keen (padre Vincent), Vivien Clinton (Mary), Michael Goodliffe (Martens), Albertina Temba (signora Kumalo), Edric Connor (John Kumalo). Prod.: Zoltán Korda, Alexander Korda, Alan Paton per London Film Productions. DCP. D.: 95’. Bn.