The Power of One (1992)

PG-13 | 111 or 127 mins | Drama | 27 March 1992

Director:

John G. Avildsen

Producer:

Arnon Milchan

Cinematographer:

Dean Semler

Editor:

Trevor Jolly

Production Designer:

Roger Hall

Production Company:

Warner Bros., Inc.
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HISTORY

As the film begins, the following information appears onscreen: “In the 1680s, Dutch, French and Germans fled religious persecution in Europe and settled in Southern Africa. They called themselves the Afrikaners, White Africans. For the next 250 years, the British Empire fought the Afrikaners for control of the land, the gold and 20 million Native Africans. In 1948, a conservative Afrikaner government was voted into power. A system of racial segregation first introduced by the English was declared the law of the land. The English never gave the system a name. The Afrikaners called it Apartheid. Our story begins 18 years earlier, in 1930, on a small English farm in South Africa.”
       The film concludes with the following title card: “In South Africa and around the world the struggle to gain human dignity and equal rights for all people continues. Changes can come from the power of many, but only when the many come together to form that which is invincible … the power of one.”
       Voice-over narration by Guy Witcher, Simon Fenton, and Stephen Dorff, who portray “P. K.” at ages seven, twelve, and eighteen, respectively, is heard throughout the film. The boy’s commentary derives from some of the more poetic elements in Bryce Courtenay’s 1989 source novel, The Power of One. In the book, the grieving P. K. uses metaphors about “loneliness birds” and “stone eggs” to describe his emotions. The narration occurs primarily in the first part of the film, when P. K. is seven years old.
       On 25 Nov 1990, the LAT announced that director John G. Avildsen planned to begin filming the $18–$20 million picture in ... More Less

As the film begins, the following information appears onscreen: “In the 1680s, Dutch, French and Germans fled religious persecution in Europe and settled in Southern Africa. They called themselves the Afrikaners, White Africans. For the next 250 years, the British Empire fought the Afrikaners for control of the land, the gold and 20 million Native Africans. In 1948, a conservative Afrikaner government was voted into power. A system of racial segregation first introduced by the English was declared the law of the land. The English never gave the system a name. The Afrikaners called it Apartheid. Our story begins 18 years earlier, in 1930, on a small English farm in South Africa.”
       The film concludes with the following title card: “In South Africa and around the world the struggle to gain human dignity and equal rights for all people continues. Changes can come from the power of many, but only when the many come together to form that which is invincible … the power of one.”
       Voice-over narration by Guy Witcher, Simon Fenton, and Stephen Dorff, who portray “P. K.” at ages seven, twelve, and eighteen, respectively, is heard throughout the film. The boy’s commentary derives from some of the more poetic elements in Bryce Courtenay’s 1989 source novel, The Power of One. In the book, the grieving P. K. uses metaphors about “loneliness birds” and “stone eggs” to describe his emotions. The narration occurs primarily in the first part of the film, when P. K. is seven years old.
       On 25 Nov 1990, the LAT announced that director John G. Avildsen planned to begin filming the $18–$20 million picture in Mar 1991. Although locations in Zimbabwe, Africa, had been chosen, the cast had not yet been selected. Avildsen was listed as a producer, along with Arnon Milchan, John Tarnoff, and Steve Reuther. However, neither Tarnoff nor the director received producing credits.
       A 12 Apr 1991 Screen International news item reported that actor Michael Gambon had been cast in The Power of One. However, he does not appear in the film.
       Although a 23 May 1991 HR production chart indicated that principal photography began 15 Apr 1991, a 23 May 1991 DV brief clarified that filming began 20 May 1991. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, principal photography took place primarily in Harare and Bulowayo, two cities in Zimbabwe. Although Alexandra is a real location in Africa, located on the outskirts of Johannesburg, filmmakers felt it was too dangerous to shoot there, and constructed a replica of the township instead. Members of the 650-member Bulowayan Church Choir, who performed the choral music heard in the film, were asked to stand in as “residents” of Alexandra. Principal photography concluded in London, England, at various English schools, representing the environments where seven-year-old and eighteen-year-old P. K. spent much of his time.
       Second unit photography captured the dramatic natural beauty of Africa. Wildlife scenes were filmed primarily in Botswana, with additional filming on Fothergill Island in Lake Kariba and at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
       Reviews in HR and DV on 16 and 17 Mar 1992 listed a running time of 111 minutes. However, when the film opened in Los Angeles ten days later, the 27 Mar 1992 LAT review indicated a running time of 127 minutes. The NYT review of that day posted a running time of 126 minutes. No further information on various versions of the picture could be found. The print viewed for this record was 127 minutes in length.
       The release resulted in a “paltry” box-office gross of $4 million, according to the 13–19 Nov 1992 South African Weekly Mail. Filmmakers suggested that Warner Bros. failed to market the picture to the appropriate audience. Avildsen also felt that the movie “should have gone to Cannes first; [Warner Bros.] should have taken that slow-build route.” However, he was “looking forward” to the picture’s Nov 1992 release in South Africa.
       The Power of One marked the first theatrically released feature film of actor Daniel Craig.
       End credits include the following dedication: “This film dedicated to the loving memory of Elnora Flagg.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
23 May 1991.
---
Daily Variety
17 Mar 1992
p. 12, 14.
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 1992
p. 6, 46.
Los Angeles Times
25 Nov 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
27 Mar 1992
Calendar, p. 4.
New York Times
27 Mar 1992
Section C, p. 20.
Screen International
12 Apr 1991.
---
Variety
23 Mar 1992
p. 106.
Weekly Mail (South Africa)
13-19 Nov 1992
p. 32.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Introducing
as St. John
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Le Studio Canal + Regency Enterprises Alcor Films present
With the Participation of Village Roadshow Pictures
An Arnon Milchan Production
A John G. Avildsen Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
3d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Line prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Steadicam and 1st cam op
2d cam op
Addl cam op
Addl cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
2d grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Matte cam
Lighting equip supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supv art dir
Art dir (Zimbabwe)
Art dir (UK)
Storyboard artist
Africa maps by
Title artwork by
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
Post prod supv
Film ed
Boxing scene ed
1st asst ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Asst film ed (UK)
Apprentice film ed (UK)
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Standby prop
Prop/Zimbabwe
Set prop master
Prod buyer
Const coord/Zimbabwe
Const coord/UK
Matte artist
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Men`s ward
Women's ward
Designer's asst
MUSIC
Orig songs by
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Mus rec by
Orchestrator
Mus supv
Addl mus by
The Masibemunye Bulawayo Choir under the direction
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
ADR mixer
Foley mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Sd maintenance
Post prod sd and sd eff provided by
Re-rec
Re-rec
Nature sounds/South Africa
MAKEUP
Chief makeup artist
Makeup artist
Chief hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Exec in charge of prod
Prod supv
Prod supv
Post prod asst
Post prod asst
Post prod asst
Systems analyst
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Boxing advisor
Boxing trainer
Casting Zimbabwe
Casting South Africa
Casting asst
Dial coach
Drama coach
Voice casting
Prod assoc U.S.
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod secy
Prod secy
Supv prod accountant
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst to John G. Avildsen
Asst to John G. Avildsen
Asst to Arnon Milchan
Asst to Steve Reuther
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Unit pub
Project consultant
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay (New York, 1989).
SONGS
"Concerto for the Southland," written by Johnny Clegg
"The Mourning Song," written by Johnny Clegg, performed by The Masibemunye Bulawayo Choir
"Mother Africa," written by Hans Zimmer and Lebo M
+
SONGS
"Concerto for the Southland," written by Johnny Clegg
"The Mourning Song," written by Johnny Clegg, performed by The Masibemunye Bulawayo Choir
"Mother Africa," written by Hans Zimmer and Lebo M
"Rainmaker," written by Hans Zimmer and Lebo M
"The Penny Whistle Song," written by Hans Zimmer and Lebo M
"Hambani," written by Victor Ndlazilwane, performed by The Bulawayans
"Jim Takata Kanjani," performed by the Bantu Glee Singers, courtesy of Rounder Records
"Daisy Bell" ("A Bicycle Built For Two"), performed by the Bulawayo Concert Band
"Beethoven's 9th Symphony," arranged by Hans Zimmer
"Dlala Ndlovu," performed by The Masibemunye Bulawayo Choir
"Asakhile," performed by The Masibemunye Bulawayo Choir
"Inkunzi," performed by The Masibemunye Bulawayo Choir.
+
COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
27 March 1992
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 27 March 1992
Production Date:
began 20 May 1991 in Zimbabwe
Copyright Claimant:
Regency Enterprises, V.O.F., & Studio Canal+
Copyright Date:
13 April 1992
Copyright Number:
PA576789
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
111 or 127
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Countries:
France, Germany, Australia, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31619
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1930s South Africa, seven-year-old “P. K.” goes to boarding school after his mother becomes too frail to care for him. The school is run by Afrikaners, white Africans of European descent, and P. K., the only English student, faces harsh prejudice from the other boys. When P. K.’s mother dies, he takes leave to attend the funeral. While at home, he tells his nanny about the boys who bully him. She enlists the help of a medicine man, and P. K. returns to school with a guardian chicken. For a short while, P. K. finds comfort in the pet bird. However, when World War II breaks out in Europe, the students’ cruelty toward P. K. intensifies. School administrators decide to send the boy to live with his grandfather in Barberton. The elderly man is unenthusiastic about raising a young child, and asks his friend “Doc” to spend time with P. K. Doc, a German living in exile in Africa, teaches the boy about classical music and African flora and fauna. The two become fast friends. One afternoon, soldiers arrive and inform Doc that he must spend the duration of the war in the local prison for black African criminals. Prison authorities view Doc as a model of German culture, however, and allow him to bring his piano, as well as several plants. P. K. visits his mentor every day, tending to the garden and taking piano lessons. When he confesses that he still gets beaten up at school, Doc introduces the boy to Geel Piet, an African inmate with impressive boxing skills. Piet coaches P. K. for several years, transforming him from a timid little boy into a ... +


In 1930s South Africa, seven-year-old “P. K.” goes to boarding school after his mother becomes too frail to care for him. The school is run by Afrikaners, white Africans of European descent, and P. K., the only English student, faces harsh prejudice from the other boys. When P. K.’s mother dies, he takes leave to attend the funeral. While at home, he tells his nanny about the boys who bully him. She enlists the help of a medicine man, and P. K. returns to school with a guardian chicken. For a short while, P. K. finds comfort in the pet bird. However, when World War II breaks out in Europe, the students’ cruelty toward P. K. intensifies. School administrators decide to send the boy to live with his grandfather in Barberton. The elderly man is unenthusiastic about raising a young child, and asks his friend “Doc” to spend time with P. K. Doc, a German living in exile in Africa, teaches the boy about classical music and African flora and fauna. The two become fast friends. One afternoon, soldiers arrive and inform Doc that he must spend the duration of the war in the local prison for black African criminals. Prison authorities view Doc as a model of German culture, however, and allow him to bring his piano, as well as several plants. P. K. visits his mentor every day, tending to the garden and taking piano lessons. When he confesses that he still gets beaten up at school, Doc introduces the boy to Geel Piet, an African inmate with impressive boxing skills. Piet coaches P. K. for several years, transforming him from a timid little boy into a twelve-year-old boxing champion. The black prisoners nickname P. K. the “Rainmaker.” Piet explains that the Rainmaker is a mythical figure who will someday resolve all cultural conflict in South Africa. P. K. is wary about being perceived as a false god, but Piet dismisses the concern. Sgt. Bormann, a prison guard, notices Piet fraternizing with P. K., and humiliates the African in front of the other prisoners. After the incident, Piet attempts to keep a low profile. However, when Doc is asked to organize a music concert for the prison commissioner’s annual visit, Piet suggests the prisoners sing a song, demonstrating unity. The guards are suspicious of the musical activities, but considers P. K.’s rehearsals with the inmates to be harmless. On the night of the commissioner’s visit, P. K. worries about Piet, who is nowhere to be seen. As the boy leads the prisoners in song, he notices a smug Sgt. Bormann standing in the distance. P. K. runs off stage and finds Piet behind a building, badly beaten. The African dies in P. K.’s arms. Sometime later, the war ends, and Doc returns to Germany. In 1948, eighteen-year-old P. K. attends private school in Johannesburg, where he is respected for his intelligence, as well as his boxing prowess. He falls in love with Maria Marais, unaware that her father is Professor Daniel Marais, an apartheid advocate. P. K.’s best friend, Morrie Guilbert, declares the relationship doomed, while P. K. laments the country’s racial divisions. Morrie encourages P. K. to focus on boxing, and introduces him to Hoppie Gruenewald, who agrees to let the talented teenager train at his gym. P. K. notices several young black men at the gym and remarks on Hoppie’s acceptance of “mixing.” Hoppie laughs and declares that, inside the boxing ring, all men are equal. Later, P. K. visits Prof. Marais to ask permission to date Maria. Aware of P. K.’s liberal ideas about equality for all people, the professor refuses the request. However, Maria follows P. K. to Hoppie’s gym and informs him that she is willing to date in secret. At the gym, P. K. receives an invitation to fight against a black man, Gideon Duma, in Alexandra, a black township. Morrie and P. K. point out that an official mixed-race boxing match is illegal. When Gideon’s manager refers to Geel Piet’s prophecy about the Rainmaker, P. K. realizes he must fight. On the night of the match, P. K. struggles to hold his own against Gideon, much to the delight of the black crowd. When he finally knocks Gideon out, the crowd falls silent. However, Gideon shows admiration for his opponent, declaring him the Rainmaker, and the crowd begins chanting enthusiastically. At the end of the night, Maria thanks P. K. for showing her another side of South Africa. They make plans to attend the senior ball together. The next day, P. K. returns to Alexandra to go jogging with Gideon, who suggests he help teach English to the townsfolk, most of whom still speak Zulu. When P. K. resists, Gideon storms away. Trekking through the outback, P. K. changes his mind. He and Morrie ask their headmaster, St. John, about hosting a language class for Africans in one of the school classrooms. St. John warns the young men that the endeavor violates Afrikaner law, but agrees to support them. P. K. invites Maria to the first class. She reminds him that the senior ball is that night, and becomes angry when P. K. insists the study group is more important. Maria makes plans to attend the ball with another boy. However, on the night of the dance, she has a change of heart, and goes to P. K.’s school to help teach the Africans. A few days later, St. John informs Morrie and P. K. that Afrikaner authorities know about the language class and want it terminated. Later, officials show up at Hoppie’s gym. P. K. recognizes Sgt. Botha as one of his tormentors from the boarding school he attended as a child. Botha brutalizes Gideon, professes his hatred for P. K., and threatens to destroy Hoppie’s establishment. That night, P. K. visits Maria and asks her to come with him to England, where he plans to attend Oxford University. She agrees. In the month before leaving for Oxford, Morrie and P. K. resume teaching English. One night, Afrikaner police storm the small church where class is held, and in the chaos, Maria is killed. Hundreds of Africans gather at her funeral, singing sorrowfully. Later, Gideon asks P. K. to forgo his scholarship to Oxford and remain in Alexandra as a teacher. P. K. agrees and the town celebrates. However, Sgt. Botha organizes a raid on Alexandra, seeking to arrest P. K. A fight ensues, and Botha dies. P. K. and Gideon set out on foot the next day, determined to work together to fight racial injustice in South Africa. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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