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Honors Thesis Archive

Author Sarah Yehle
Title Perceptions of South Africa through Film
Department Africana Studies
Advisor Scott Rosenberg
Year 2007
Honors University Honors
Full Text View Thesis (211 KB)
At the author's request, an electronic copy of this thesis is only available to on-campus users.
Abstract The purpose of this study was to determine how perceptions of South Africa are shaped as a result of popular films. Films chosen for this study included Sir Richard Attenborough's Cry Freedom, Euzhan Palcy's A Dry White Season, and Phillip Noyce's Catch a Fire. Each film, though stemming from a basic desire to educate viewers about the apartheid struggle, was very different as a result of varying individual goals the directors had with their respective films. The films contrast with each other based on factors such as time period the film was set as well as made, the role of violence in the struggle, the role of philosophical debate in the struggle, and the degree of black versus white role in furthering the plot. In order to assess how viewers' opinions of South Africa were shaped by these three films, surveys were administered to Wittenberg University students after they watched the films. These surveys evaluated the filmmakers' effectiveness is reaching their goals and also asked students how their perceptions changed after watching the films. Overall, the surveys showed that the directors achieved many of their goals and that there is an overwhelmingly positive perception of South Africa because of the successes of these three films.

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