The Leader, His Driver, and the Driver's Wife
This feature length documentary charters Nick Broomfield’s attempts at interviewing the right wing patriot -- Terre'Blanche -- during a transitional period in South African history.
Recently, Nelson Mandela has been freed from Robinson Island, and he is in negotiations with F.W. De Klerk about governmental policy. Now this turn of events, from the point of view of Terre'Blanche and his white-supremacist group -- the AWB -- is just completely unacceptable. And that is why they show their disdain by making a number of nefarious attacks against the black townships.
Inadvertently, these sordid actions delays Nick in interviewing the man in question. But fear not. What he does instead is to gather information about Terra through numerous excursions -- such as a dinner and dance, public speeches, and a family gathering -- as well as by speaking to his driver, JP, and the driver’s wife, Anita.
Here. Check this out for what you'll get to see within this program:
- JP and numerous local white townspeople, earnestly trying to explain to Nick about their racist feelings towards ‘the blacks’, plus why they support Mr. Blanches’ stance on this matter. This is also highlighted to him through Terre'Blanche's public speeches too.
- Over a period of time you will witness JP's variable emotional behaviour towards his AWB ally -- Piet Rudolph -- who caused his brief incarceration just prior to this documentary being made. At numerous points throughout, JP either feels scared, jovial, or patriotic, due to the fact that the presently imprisoned Mr. Rudolph rebukes, frain's, and assists the authorities, by telling them about JP association with some stolen weapons, plus his feelings towards the AWB's actions.
- On the other hand, JP's wife, Anita, supports him emotionally, and assists Nick in explaining away the attitudes of her fellow townspeople; indirectly giving more substance to a rather dismal subject matter.
Oh! By the way. Nick does eventually manage to get to speak to Mr. Blanche. Not that it does him any good. Kind of.
Now if you're the type of a person who gets very upset by the attitudes of racist people, who use high faulting rhetoric and bible-bashing bigotry to justify their viewpoint, then please, don't watch 'The Leader, His Driver, and the Driver's Wife'.
Fair enough, it's entirely justifiable for you to hate someone because they're a bit of a tosser. Or you can hate someone because they've done something directly wrong to you or a loved one. But why-oh-why-oh-why, hate someone who wants to just get on with their lives, and live it in relative harmony?
Well, personally speaking of course, I find that this rather fascinating and alarming documentary managed to boldly chronicle a dynamic and emotional time in South African history. Effortlessly, it is able to capture the flavor and tone of this topic without saying a single word; and just allows whoever is in view to dig their own graves one syllable at a time. Moreover, Nick's loose and debonair pace of filmmaking does contradict this topic quite a lot in hindsight. Imbuing the overall project with a somewhat personable perspective, as if you were watching these events unravel whilst perched upon his shoulder.
No word of a lie! I found that this aspect was especially apparent in the way Nick uses Terre'Blanche's own foil-balls against him. Persistently irritating him per encounter -- 'taking pictures' and speaking to him -- when he obviously doesn't want to be disturbed.
Oh! And as for the ‘final interview’ in itself, Ha! Classic bit of Nick that was. Making Terre degrade himself without him even knowing it. And projecting an image on screen which was more revealing that any in-depth bio-pic could ever have hoped to accomplish.
As for the rest of 'The Leader, His Driver, and the Driver's Wife' on the other hand -- yeah -- it was a pretty good film all in all. In some way it reminded me of a prequel of sorts. Charting the rise of a man who is about to commit a grisly deed against his fellow man. Just think of it as a documentary version of Star Wars episodes 2 to 3, but set in South Africa, and with a Darth Vader with a dodgy beard and a dodgier accent.
What do you say to that Mr Blanche?
THE RATING: A-