A Dry White Season

Synopsis: Ben du Toit is a schoolteacher who always has considered himself a man of caring and justice, at least on the individual level. When his gardener's son is brutally beaten up by the police at a demonstration by black school children, he gradually begins to realize his own society is built on a pillar of injustice and exploitation.
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Director(s): Euzhan Palcy
Production: MGM
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 7 nominations.
 
IMDB:
7.0
Metacritic:
68
Rotten Tomatoes:
83%
R
Year:
1989
97 min
487 Views


FADE IN:

EXT. DAN PIENAAR SECONDARY SCHOOL FOR BOYS -DAY

Dan Pienaar school is a typical Johannesburg Afrikaan

school. The students are mainly from middle-class

families. School athletics are in progress. The students,

in their smart school uniforms, are cheering

enthusiastically a relay race on the immaculately-kept

sports ground.

GORDON NGUBENE, a 47-years-old African laborer is working

in the school garden. A few feet away is his 15years-

old son JONATHAN leaning against a wall watching

the games.

BEN DU TOIT, a 50-year-old Afrikaaner history teacher, is

enthusiastically cheering his son JOHAN, a 15-years-old,

who is leading neck-and-neck with another boy in the last

leg of the race. The excitement increases as they

approach the tape. Ben is beside himself, egging his son

with shouts. The young teacher, VIVIERS, standing next

to Ben, is shouting "come on Johan," and slapping the

father on the back.

Johan breasts the tape just ahead of the other boy. The

ground is invaded by boys running to congratulate Johan.

Ben hurries towards his happy but exhausted son; the proud

father pushing his way through the animated boys. As he

reaches Johan he pats him on the back.

BEN:

This was your best race.

JOHAN:

(excited)

I beat him, Papa.

BEN:

(proudly)

You did son. Come on, shower.

They walk happily towards the school buildings in conversation,

Johan being slapped on the back by friends. Ben

stops to talk to Gordon who jumps to his feet.

BEN:

I'll be expecting you. There

isn't much to do, only weeding

the marigolds and watering the

lawn and flowers.

(CONTINUED)

2.

CONTINUED:

GORDON:

We'll be there, Mr. Ben'sir,

Jonathan come to help me.

Ben hadn't seen Jonathan. He turns to him.

BEN:

And how's the algebra? Still

giving you trouble?

JONATHAN:

(with respect)

Just a little, Mr. Ben'sir.

JOHAN:

Me too.

GORDON:

(straightening himself)

He's working hard, Mr. Ben'sir,

and your money will not be

wasted. Emily and me will always

thank you.

BEN:

(as he leaves)

See you both later.

Gordon returns to his work a little distance further. A

group of students are laughing and pushing each other

boisterously. As they near Jonathan, two nudge each

other and giggle. Then, one of them trips Jonathan. He

falls to the ground and jumps up aggressively, about to

attack the boy. Gordon shouts "Jonathan."

The headmaster, MRS. CLOETE, aged 65 years, has observed

the incident, but takes no action.

Jonathan stands panting with rage. He suddenly strides

away towards the gate in a rage.

GORDON:

(shouting angrily)

U ya phi?

(Where are you going?)

Jonathan turns to look at his father and continues to

walk off.

TITLES.

EXT. SOWETO BEER HALL -AFTERNOON

The beer hall is a large complex with a drinking area

with long rows of low benches.

(CONTINUED)

3.

CONTINUED:

Men sit drinking African beer in one-half and one gallon

plastics containers. The place buzzes with noise.

Several people are touting wares for sale.

Suddenly a group of about twenty youths walks into the

drinking area, obviously to cause trouble. The LEADER

starts to address the clients.

LEADER:

Your children are starving and you

are drinking. We demand freedom

and our fathers are drunk. We ask

you to boycott these beer halls.

Revolution and drink don't work

together!

A large MAN WITH SIDEBURNS, obviously drunk, stands up, a

stick in his hand.

MAN WITH SIDEBURNS

Since when do children talk like

this to their fathers? They need

thrashing.

The man and several others advance on the boys. The boys

run into the serving area, close the doors and start

breaking up the place. Two police Land Rovers SCREECH to

a halt outside. The boys run out through a side entrance.

They are chased by the police who are black.

Jonathan and his best friend Wellington, also 15 years,

are walking towards the beer hall when the boys come

running out chased by the police. It is prudent for

them to run down the street. The boys and police are

bearing down on them. Their escape is cut off by the

apperance of another police Land Rover. Two policemen,

two blacks and two whites join in the capture. Jonathan,

Wellington and about ten of the boys are arrested.

As they are hundled into the vehicle, they protest their

innocence without success and are driven away.

INT. SOWETO POLICE STATION -CHARGE OFFICE -AFTERNOON

The charge office is sparcely furnished with a long bench

along a wall. There is a reception counter with Sgt:

Van Zyl in charge. The boys are lined up against a wall.

The sergeant stands with a tall blond man with a scar on

his chin, CAPTAIN STOLZ.

(CONTINUED)

4.

CONTINUED:

The sergeant reads out a name and looks at Stolz; if he

nods the boy stands aside. After this ritual, the ones

that Stolz has chosen are marched to a waiting police van

and driven away. The others are taken to the cells at

the police station, these include Jonathan and

Wellington.

EXT. DUTCH REFORM CHURCH -DAY

The MUSIC STOPS. The doors open. The 40 years-oldminister

Bester comes to the door, then stands and greets

his parishioners as they file out of the church.

Amongst them, Ben Du Toit --his wife, SUSAN, a clean-

cut, immaculate, "toe-the-line" beauty and his son, Johan

--the blond, blue-eyed, tanned and torsoed fourteenyear-

old every father dreams of. Susan greets friends

and acquaintances, pausing to chat... mostly formalities.

Johan, his eyes on a girl his age. She is with her

father, Mr. Cloete, the headmaster --she smiles at Johan

from a distance; he waves awkwardly as she drives off

with her parents.

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Colin Welland

Colin Welland, born Colin Edward Williams, was a British actor and screenwriter. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his script for Chariots of Fire. more…

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