The Tragedy of the TRC

Within the movie, Long Night’s Journey Into Day, we are taken through personal stories and actions during the Apartheid’s rule in South Africa which lasted from 1948-1994. This film is startling yet beautiful in the way it recounts the experience of real people with real emotions. This movie is raw and explicit, but then again, so was the Apartheid. This film follows the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the court-like body assembled in order to distribute justice after the end of the Apartheid.

As many people were put on “trial” for crimes they committed against the South African people, it was explained that it almost had seemed like the TRC was similar to the reenactment of an ancient tragic play. This was especially interesting as this association is unique when you look at the other traits of the film. “The audience actually plays the role of a chorus in [this] ancient tragic play (Long Night’s). The purpose of the chorus within ancient plays is to connect the audience deeper to the characters and play itself. As they reenact and retell the horrid stories of what happened to many innocent people, when the audience “squirms” naturally, so does the audience. Although the chorus of the TRC is a sensible and composed group of people, they are still people fighting for their freedom and justice.

In this presentation of justice you notice the audience, or the chorus, as one cohesive unit, fighting for what is right. One protester during this time is recorded saying that “when you kill [him] you create more enemies […] my family is becoming your enemy and my friends become your enemy” (Long Night’s). This reference of one united force, fighting for justice, this “tragedy”, to me, becomes a lot more of a battle cry for the citizens of South Africa.

When I first watched this movie and they brought up the connection of the play, I actually restarted the film in order to do my best to understand how they would display the trial and chorus. Although just a glance into the issues of the Apartheid, we get a close comparison of how the innocent people of this area were affected by such an actual real tragedy.

One thought on “The Tragedy of the TRC”

  1. Great connection between the film’s focus on the South African people as a whole (even though that portrayal shifts around from attendees at the TRC meetings, crowds in the streets, etc.) and the role of the Chorus in The Furies.

    Like

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