Athol Fugard's play, which was presented on Broadway in 1970 starring James Earl Jones and Ruby Dee, has been made into a rigorous film adapted and directed by John Berry. It ambitiously delves into heady matters such as freedom and truth while also probing the loneliness, loss, and bigotry of two down-and-out Africans living under apartheid in South Africa.
Boesman (Danny Glover) and his wife Lena (Angela Bassett) have just had their makeshift hovel in shantytown bulldozed by the white government authorities. Fleeing with all they possess on their backs, they manage to find shelter on the mud flats outside Cape Town. Lena is trying to make sense of where they've been over the years in a spiral of tragedies and disappointments including the death of their six-month-old child. Boesman, who is used to expressing his anger by physically abusing Lena, takes solace in wine.
Their verbal sparing match is interrupted when an elderly "kaffir" (Willie Jonah) arrives in their camp. Whereas Boesman wants nothing to do with this "rubbish," as he calls the pureblooded black African, Lena takes him under her wings. More than anything else in the world, she needs someone to listen to her. There's no heart in Boesman, Lena tells the stranger; his heart has "dried up." In an extended ballet of care and compassion, she looks after him, dances for him, and then sits by him at the fire.
Boesman and Lena plumbs the anger, regret, low self-esteem, and self-destructiveness that often accompany poverty and homelessness. This story, although set in South Africa, could be told of millions of other couples all over the world.
The DVD includes interviews with Danny Glover, John Berry, and Athol Fugard, as well as trailers and cast profiles.