A South Afrikaan political prisoner is tortured to obtain information on apartheid conspirators. Ten years later, the head officer in charge of the questioning is similarly held as prisoner and questioned about his past offenses.
A solemn look at South African apartheid, Arthur Penns claustrophobic drama centers on a pair of political interrogations, separated by a decade. The films first part, set in 1988, centers on the imprisonment of Marty Strydom (Eric Stoltz), an Afrikaaner university professor held as a political prisoner under suspicion of conspiring with anti-government forces. His case falls into the hands of the villainous Colonel Kruger (Nigel Hawthorne), a brilliant and evil torturer determined to break the idealistic Strydoms spirit. The conclusion takes place nearly a decade later, after apartheids fall. Now it is Krueger who is under confinement, and subjected to unrelenting questioning from a black South African (Louis Gossett Jr.) looking to beat Kruger at his own manipulative game. While offering numerous powerful confrontations between its characters, Bima Staggs screenplay provides few narrative surprises, and some may find the films limited setting and bare-bones treatments monotono