Cry Freedom is based on the true story of Steve Biko (Denzel Washington), the charismatic South African Black Consciousness Movement leader, and Donald Woods (Kevin Kline), the liberal white editorof the Daily Dispatch newspaper. After Biko was arrested and killed while in police custody, Woods wrote a book entitled Biko exposing police complicity in his death. For him to get the book published,he had to escape from South Africa. This book, along with Woods's autobiography "Asking For Trouble," became the basis for this film.
When Biko first appears in the film, he has already been"banned" by the South African government. "Banning" meant he was not allowed to be in the same room with more than one other person outside his immediate family, and not allowed to write anything foreither public or private consumption. Additionally, he was not allowed to leave his defined banning area. Initially, Woods is critical of Biko's views and actions in his newspaper but is persuaded to meetwith him. Biko invites Woods to visit a black township to see the impoverished conditions and to witness the effect of the government imposed restrictions which make up the apartheid system. Woodsbegins to agree with Biko's desire for a South Africa where blacks have the same opportunities and freedoms as those enjoyed by the white population. As Woods comes to understand Biko's point of view, afriendship develops between them.
Following Biko's arrest and death while in custody, Woods works to expose police complicity in his death. He meets with Jimmy Kruger, the South African Minister ofJustice, but his efforts to expose the truth lead to his own banning, and Woods and his family are targeted in a campaign of dirty tricks by the security police. After one trick involving a corrosivechemical in some shirts eventually goes too far, Woods decides to sneak off to England. After a long hike, Woods is eventually able to escape to Lesotho, disguised as a priest. From there he is...
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