New film shows fight for freedom

Liana Aghajanian

Through the shackles of Apartheid that gripped South Africa and its people for over 40 years comes the true story of Patrick Chamusso, an accidental freedom fighter. Chamusso is caught between his life as an apolitical foreman for the local refinery and being a devoted family man, and his new responsibility as a political operative in the African National Congress after the brutal treatment he receives while under arrest for suspicion of a crime he did not commit.

Directed by Phillip Noyce, “Catch a Fire,” which takes its name from the major debut album of Bob Marley and the Wailers, is truly a heart-thumping tale about one man fighting for the liberation of his country. Patrick Chamusso, portrayed by Derek Luke, sees his quiet life as a devoted husband, father and local soccer coach change forever when he is arrested and taken in for questioning by officers involved with the South Africa Special Branch for the bombing of the oil refinery he works at.

Noyce crafts a good thriller in “Catch a Fire” as you watch Chamusso struggle for his country’s freedom. Though Chamusso’s fight for freedom was under different circumstances, it gives you insight into why someone would be driven to take matters into their own hands. The themes of the film are something that today’s generations are familiar with: injustice, terrorism and war. Although “Catch a Fire” is about the fight for freedom of an entire country told through one man’s story, and less about terrorist plots, it makes you wonder what suicide bombers and people such as detainees at Guantanamo are struggling with and suffering through.

The film’s elaborate use of music, from Bob Marley to traditional South African freedom songs that the refinery workers and members of ANC chant in unison, transforms the viewer into an active participant in the lives of the characters.

The structure of the movie follows a traditional narrative but juxtaposes the lives of two people on opposite ends of the spectrum and their loved ones who were caught in between.

Luke’s performance as Chamusso was filled with passion as much as Tim Robbins’ portrayal of policeman Nic Vos was chilling. All of the actors were so deeply attached to their roles that the “acting” never came through. To truly take on roles like Luke and Robbins did, one definitely had to be aware of the history behind South Africa and Apartheid. Luke, who spent several weeks in South Africa prior to filming and had the chance to meet the real Patrick Chamusso and also visit the prison cell of Nelson Mandela, passed the test with flying colors.

Bonnie Henna, who potrays Patrick’s wife, Precious, a woman whose love for her husband is compromised by Vos’ constant intrusions into her family’s life, superbly rounds out and supports Luke’s Chamusso. Perhaps the main message the film tries to instill in the audience can be summed up by the most powerful line in the movie, which is spoken by Patrick: “When my children speak of their father, they will say he was a man who stood up for what was right, a man who said, ‘I must do something now,'” he says. “What will your children say about you?”

“Catch a Fire” opens nationwide Oct. 27.