“Trust no one, confide in no one …” This memorable line in Endgame, PBS’s latest presentation from Masterpiece Contemporary, is the essence of a plot that includes secret talks and negotiations between Afrikaners and the African National Congress (ANC) that ended apartheid. If you missed the show or want to see it again, you can watch it online from October 26th – November 8th. For those who aren’t familiar with the characters in this story or the story itself, I recommend that you read a short biography of the characters in this PBS link. Photographs of the historical people involved are placed next to the images of the actors who portray them.
William Hurt portrays Willie Esterhuyse, an Afrikaner professor, who secretly met with Thabo Mbeki (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a member of the ANC. The two men grew to respect and trust each other, much through the efforts of negotiator Michael Young (Jonny Lee Miller), who worked for Consolidated Goldfields, the firm that sponsored the secluded talks in England. Young was smuggled across guarded checkpoints in undercover forays to Soweto, where he approached representatives of the ANC. His presence was not necessarily wanted in this hostile territory, and the scenes showed how dangerous his mission was. There are suspenseful moments throughout the film, and I found myself riveted by the excellence of the actors and script. My only complaint about this production is that at times the pace slowed to a crawl and the scenes seemed a tad long, but overall I found it one of the best docu-dramas I have seen in a long time. PBS feels so strongly about this production, that the film will be shown in theaters after its introduction on television:
The traditional feature-film release cycle is to start on movie screens and then move to television via DVDs, cable or network broadcasts.
A different approach has been plotted for “Endgame,” which airs tonight on the PBS series “Masterpiece Contemporary” and then will have a theatrical run.
Rebecca Eaton, “Masterpiece Contemporary” executive producer, says the original plan was to open “Endgame” in theaters first to earn Oscar attention. Because the movie aired on British TV, it’s no longer eligible for Oscar consideration. Now Eaton wants to see the film’s message get to the largest audience possible.
“We’re not going to make a ton of money from this even if it is a hit. But we want to make sure that everybody knows about it and can see it wherever, preferably on ‘Masterpiece,’ then possibly screening in the movie theaters, buy the DVD,” Eaton says. – San Luis Obispo The Tribune
The negotiations culminated in Nelson Mandela’s (Clarke Peters) release from prison, but it would take four more years before apartheid disappeared. Click here to read the synopsis of the film.
Watch an interview with Chiwetel Ejiofor about the film in this YouTube clip.
Trailer for the film: