Biko - Cry Freedom

In this clip, from Cry Freedom, Denzel Washington portrays Stephen Biko.  The 1987 film - based on a book, of the same name, by Donald Woods - was made ten years after Biko died while in police custody.

The scene, portrayed here, is based on an actual trial during which Biko remained calm while being questioned by the prosecuting attorney.  Although he was not a defendant, Biko's views - like those of the nine young black men in the dock - were at issue. 

As Donald Woods, in his book Cry Freedom, tells us:

In 1976 [the year before Biko's death] Steve Biko played a leading role in one of the most remarkable trials in South African history.  

A group of nine young blacks was prosecuted in the Supreme Court for alleged subversion by intent.  That is to say, in a sense their thoughts were placed on trial.  That Steve sought to establish that their philosophy, the Black Consciousness philosophy ... was a danger to public safety in that it was likely to lead to a mobilization of black opinion against the established white order in a manner calculated to cause "racial confrontation."

...The defense took the line that blacks needed no inculcation of resentment against white racism; that such resentment was already widespread among blacks; that even within the country's statutory curbs on anti-apartheid expression blacks had the right to mobilize opinion to seek redress of their grievances and that Black Consciousness was a constructive rather than a destructive philosophy.  (Donald Woods, Biko:  Cry Freedom, page 149.)

During his lifetime, Woods was unafraid of speaking directly against the South African government, including in speeches he gave in America. This 1988 C-SPAN clip, in which Woods appears at 12:00 into the video, is just one example.
Woods died, in 2001, still highly respected by Biko's family.

Media Credits

Clip from Cry Freedom, online courtesy YouTube.  Copyright, Universal Studios, all rights reserved.  Clip provided here as free use for educational purposes.

Director:  Richard Attenborough

Producer:  Richard Attenborough

Writers:  Donald Woods (book); John Briley (screenplay)


Denzel Washington - Steve Biko; Donald Woods - Kevin Kline

Studio:  Universal Pictures; Marble Arch Productions

Distributor:  Universal Pictures; MCA Home Video

Year:  1987

Run time:  157 minutes


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"Biko - Cry Freedom" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Feb 17, 2020.
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