WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
South Africa, 1865. Fiela Komoetie, a coloured woman living in the arid Karoo, finds a lost white child on her doorstep and takes him in, raising him as her own. Nine years later, Benjamin Komoetie is removed and forced to live in the Knysna Forest with Elias and Barta Van Rooyen, a family of woodcutters who claim that he is theirs. Separated by law and geography, they spend the next decade trying to find each other while simultaneously coming to terms with their individual identities.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Fiela se Kind is South African author Dalene Matthee's beloved second novel from the acclaimed Knysna-forest series.
When Fiela Komoetie, a brown woman, finds a 3-year-old white toddler on her doorstep, she doesn't hesitate to take him in and raise the child as her own.
She names him Benjamin, and together with her husband and four children, they make a living as farmers in the Lange Kloof – the dry, open planes surrounding the mountain.
Nine years later, Benjamin is discovered to be living with the Komoeties and is removed from their care when he is believed to be the son of a white couple, the van Rooyens, who reported their son missing years earlier.
The magistrate concludes that Benjamin Komoeti is Lukas van Rooyen, and the young boy is sent to live in the forest, on the other side of the mountain, with the van Rooyens
Not only does the story follow Benjamin as he grapples with his identity, but also Fiela, a mother, who is torn apart when her son is taken away.
This is the second screen adaptation of the beloved novel, the first being released in 1988, starring Shaleen Surtie-Richards, André Rossouw and Dawid Minnaar.
The 2019 adaptation moves with slow intensity, allowing viewers to observe and admire all the nuances of the character, and the setting.
Most notably is the sharp contrast between the dry open planes of the Lange Kloof and the lush vegetation of the Knysna-forest.
The setting and the locations tell as much of the story as the characters. Through the spectacular location scouting and cinematography, Fiela se Kind spoils us with unforgettable shots.
Some of the most spectacular scenes were those of the Komoetie family on their porch, no dialogue uttered, simply standing in formation, looking out onto the vast planes.
The movie is driven by strong visuals, as opposed to dialogue, suggesting that the characters had to exaggerate their body language and facial expressions.
There were many scenes where no words were said, but a single glance spoke a thousand words.
Even though Cindy Swanepoel's character Barta Van Rooyen had little dialogue in the movie, my eyes kept gravitating toward her. Her slouched posture, wide eyes, and slow movements drew me in, and I was captivated by her meek demeanour.
Zenobia Kloppers brings the pages of Fiela se Kind to life with her portrayal Fiela Komoetie.
She perfectly embodies Fiela as a highly intelligent, dutiful, hard-working woman, with pride and class, in a country where the privilege belongs to the white people.
I found the latest screen adaptation to supplement and enhance the classic literature, rather than being a stand-alone feature film.
Although I can applaud the movie for taking risks with the pace, some of the magic and charm from the novel got gets lots during the visual adaptation.