She searched for a home, she searched for love. Confronted by Apartheid and a father who was Minister of censorship. With men like Jack Cope and Andre Brink she found much love, but no home. In his first speech to the South African Parliament Nelson Mandela read her poem The Dead Child of Nyanga and addresses her as one of the finest poets of South Africa.
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Art, politics, and craziness conspire to form a rather mechanicalmelodrama in Black Butterflies, the true-life tale of famed 1960s SouthAfrican poet Ingrid Jonker (Carice van Houten), whose freedom-promotingwork flew in the face of her apartheid-upholding, parliament-censorshipminister father (Rutger Hauer). Although ostensibly about racialstrife, Paula van der Oest's film trains its most rigorous focus onIngrid's romantic relationship with author Jack (Liam Cunningham) and,intermittently, budding writer Eugene (Nicholas Pauling), both...Read the full review here:http://www.villagevoice.com/movies/reviews/Count:15/Page:2/
This review was made for Cambridge Film Festival (UK) - 15 to 25September 2011* Contains spoilers *As expected, Liam Cunningham (as Jack Cope) was excellent, but Caricevan Houten, playing poet Ingrid Jonker, was a revelation. To those inthe know, she perfectly carried out a role that betrayed the traits ofimpetuosity, feeling abandoned, blaming others, promiscuity, drinkingtoo much in order to feel safe and able to cope, and becomingoverwhelmed by conflicting emotions, which characterize some commonpersonality disorders (they would probably have called them neurosesthen).Yet, as is by no means inconsistent, her character was delightful, andshe filled the screen with feeling, from seducing Jack, and showing thecharacters' hunger for each other in the very beautiful sex-scenes, tohurling objects at him with extreme force. There are claims that shehas had other lovers, but Eugene and Jack, the ones who are definite,both find her draining, as well they would. A force for life is hard tolive with, after all.Rutger Hauer as Ingrid's father (eerily resembling my former universitytutor facially) has a harsh love (eventually, on account of her allegedsleeping around, he dismisses her as a slut), likely to have been oneof the things that contributed to how she reacts to life and, throughdoing so in later life, the three psychiatric admissions that we see(or hear of), the last of them leading to electroconvulsive therapy(ECT). Although it is not always true that people are never the sameafter it, she is damaged.She is also damaged by the child whom she wished she had kept, and bythe one fathered by Eugene, and which led her to desperate steps inParis and that last admission. Whereas the film does not pretend toportray Ingrid's life or that of others who were close to herfaithfully, hearing Carice (and, against his judgement, her character'sfather) read her verse will encourage a journey to look out herwriting, not least given that is was allowed such a prominent place inthe new South Africa.Maybe the real Ingrid wrote on the walls, maybe she didn't, but it setup a world in which desperate words written in the condensation inParis were hurtingly real, and also tragically echoed her having madelove to Jack in her old room at her father's house (the old servants'quarters), their bodies touching and mingling with her script.Not exactly a love-story, through she clearly does love Jack (butcannot be 'faithful'), but one about what it is to feel, love and live,and to write faithfully what one believes in, whatever the cost.
It would be extremely useful if IMDb were to actually mention this onthe movie's page somewhere.If you are not from South Africa, you've probably never heard of thispoetess from that Aparathied era. Unfortunately, this movie is unlikelyto make you want to learn any more about her as it portrays her as anextremely unlikable, self-centred, promiscuous abuser of everyone shemeets. I have no idea if this is actually how Jonker was in life, andquite frankly this movie makes me not care in the least.I'm sure she must have had some redeeming qualities, but the lacklustreperformances and horrible script disguise them well.
BLACK BUTTERFLIES is a biographical drama based on the life of IngridJonker. For those who are unfamiliar with this poet the followingdescription my aid in the appreciation of this film: 'Ingrid Jonker (19September 1933 - 19 July 1965) was a South African poet. Although shewrote in Afrikaans, her poems have been widely translated into otherlanguages. Ingrid Jonker has reached iconic status in South Africa andis often called the South African Sylvia Plath, owing to the intensityof her work and the tragic course of her turbulent life. Her work hasalso been compared to that of Anne Sexton.' Greg Latter has written thescreenplay that attempts to give us all the facets of this enigmaticpersonality and the film is directed by Paula van der Oest. It isobviously an act of love.We meet Ingrid and her sister Anna as children, poor, without shoes,and taken to the home of their Apartheid father Abraham Jonker (RutgerHauer) the Minister of Censorship for the parliament of South Africa.As Ingrid (Carice van Houten) matures she becomes a beautiful, butimpetuous young poet, feeling abandoned, blaming others, promiscuous,escaping in excessive drinking too much in order to feel safe and ableto cope, and becoming overwhelmed by conflicting emotions, whichcharacterize some common personality disorders. At her father's demandshe married Pieter, has a daughter by him, and leaves him because shefeels trapped. While swimming in the ocean she nearly drowns but issaved by writer Jack Cope (Liam Cunningham) - this act results in alove relationship and despite Jack's decaying marriage they plan tolive together. They both support the young South African poet Nkos(Thamsanqua Mbongo) and aid his escape form South Africa to Europe inhopes of finding freedom to write. Ingrid's and Jack's relationship ispassionate and stormy: Ingrid has affairs simply because she has thefreedom of mind to do so, and the affair with one Eugene Maritz(Nicholas Pauling), a married man, drives Jack away. Ingrid aborts thechild she conceived with Jack (Jack does not know this) and eventuallydoes the same with a child conceived with Eugene. All the while Ingridis suffering form her inner demons but at the same time becoming moreaware of the cruelty of Apartheid. Her writings reflect these feelingsand are censored by her father. Yet her greatest collection of poemsabout the Apartheid are published despite her father's wishes and herfather disowns her for being a wasted 'slut.' Ingrid's increasinglybizarre behavior results in several psychiatric hospitalizations andsuicide attempts and she goes to Paris where she is treated withelectroconvulsive therapy. The treatment calms her but robs her of theability to write poetry and during the night of 19 July 1965, Jonkerwent to the beach at Three Anchor Bay in Cape Town where she walkedinto the sea and committed suicide by drowning.Carice van Houten, Liam Cunningham, and Rutger Hauer offer brilliantperformances and the support cast is strong - Candice D'Arcy asIngrid's sister Anna, Grant Swanby as Jan Rabie, and Graham Clarke asJack's closest mate Uys Krige. During the film's credits we hear NelsonMandela reading Ingrid's prize winning poem 'The Dead Child of Nyanga',probably the most important poem to influence the end of Apartheid.She searched for a home, she searched for love. Confronted by Apartheidand a father who was Minister of censorship. With men like Jack Copeand Andre Brink she found much love, but no home. In his first speechto the South African Parliament Nelson Mandela read her poem "The DeadChild of Nyanga" and addresses her as one of the finest poets of SouthAfrica. The child is not dead The child lifts his fists against hismother Who shouts Afrika ! shouts the breath Of freedom and the veld Inthe locations of the cordoned heartThe child lifts his fists against his father in the march of thegenerations who shouts Afrika ! shout the breath of righteousness andblood i n the streets of his embattled prideThe child is not dead not at Langa nor at Nyanga not at Orlando nor atSharpeville nor at the police station at Philippi where he lies with abullet through his brainThe child is the dark shadow of the soldiers on guard with riflesSaracens and batons the child is present at all assemblies andlaw-givings the child peers through the windows of houses and into thehearts of mothers this child who just wanted to play in the sun atNyanga is everywhere the child grown to a man treks through all Africathe child grown into a giant journeys through the whole world Without apassThis is a courageous and deeply moving film about a great poet. GradyHarp, April 12
Butterflies tries to show us the hardship of the poet Ingrid Jonker inthe 50's and 60's in South Africa; her social and mental struggles andthe clashes with her family. Striving for equality between the races,she finds herself opposed to her father who heads up a governmentcensorship board. This could have been a good backdrop for some decent drama and theportrayal of a country raped by apartheid. But besides shoving anunlikable protagonist down our throats (Jonker), the film offered verylittle in the way of plot and dialog. What was presented in stead was a90 minute volley of uneasy situations with Jonker interacting withcharacters who turned up whenever the script required it without aplot-inspired narrative flow. The connections to her surrounding characters are never really exploredand the development of situations felt awkwardly and needlessly rushed.The interactions between Jonker and her father for example, whichshould have been key scenes in the film, lacked any additional purposebesides the very obvious. Screenwriter Greg Latter, who did much betterwhen he wrote the screenplay for the 2007 movie Forgiveness, also setin South Africa, really missed the mark here by only serving uppredictable dialog for a historical drama that already lacked adiscernible outline.Neither van Houten nor Hauer were particularly convincing in theirroles and the acting by Liam Cunningham made their performances pale incomparison. But it was most of all van Houten who clearly wasn't up tothe task. Her crass Dutch accent was particularly annoying, especiallyconsidering how easy it should be for a Dutch actress to get the S.A.accent right. Her acting also felt a bit labored at times which wascompounded by her role mostly being fed dramatic clichÃ©s.There's a good soundtrack however, accompanying some very beautifulimagery but the movie as a whole is a rather lackluster andexasperating watch. 45/100
"Black Butterflies", a biographical drama imagining the life and timesof famed Afrikaner poet Ingrid Jonker (played with a distractingnon-afrikaans accent by Carice van Houten), ventures through uneasyterritory of a manic-depressive egocentric leech, who happens perchance to also be a brilliant poet. Focused mainly around her tentativeaffair with acclaimed novelist Jack Cope (Liam Cunningham), it alsofeatures subplots regarding her promiscuous behaviour and romance withEugene Maritz (Nicholas Pauling), de facto a cryptic Andre Brink, andher conflicted relationship with her father Abraham Jonker (RutgerHauer), who headed the censorship department of the Apartheidgovernment.Through her tribulations (without much trials) the audience in sweptinto the demented and self-absorbed world of the poet with destructivetendencies and little more than a fleeting regard for anything outsideof her own virtual obsessions and hyperbolized melodrama. DirectorPaula van der Oest and scriptwriter Greg Latter leave little sympathyfor Ingrid Jonker, portraying her as compulsive, impulsive, borderingon alcoholic, accusatory in nature, morally repugnant with overwhelminginclinations towards destroying everything around her during herturbulent emotional whirlwinds, including overwhelming contemptuousdisregard towards her own child. Nonetheless Ingrid remains fascinatingand magnetic as a poet epitomised by her internal contradictions andfragility. If this movie was aimed at being an elegy towards therevered writer, than sadly it has failed. But as a character study of atroubled and turbulent individual, which by teasing brilliance ends upspiralling into despair and manic annihilation, it is a captivatingexperience.Despite her obvious issues with keeping an accent and the resultingmeandering articulation Carice van Houten still manages to convey theobsessive Ingrid with her crippling character disorders. Nonetheless,despite much more limited screen time, she is indiscriminatelyovershadowed by Liam Cunningham and Rutger Hauer, who come en force intheir respective roles. Nonetheless, script-wise the interactionsbetween father and daughter feel dauntlessly underlined, not followingthrough on the key importance of this relationship to Jonker'swritings. Filtered through some brilliant cinematography and restraineddirection with a touch of poetic artistry, the overall experience wasextremely enticing, even if the divisive character of Ingrid Jonker isbound to push all the wrong buttons for many viewers.
A middle aged writer rescues a young woman from drowning near theshores of South Africa. Although he is much older, they fall in loveright there and then and soon some obvious complications ensue. Thereis hardly a likable or interesting character in this wanderinghistorical drama about the poet Ingrid Jonker (Carice van Houten). Itdeals primarily with the mentally troubled writer and her precariousrelationships with men, including her father (Rutger Hauer) who is amember of the apartheid regime she strongly opposes. The film never picks up any speed and the absence of a discernible plotline or a compelling narrative makes for a very pallid viewingexperience. Hauers script is particularly one-note but the same couldbe said of van Houten who seemed to be out of her depth in the role ofa frustrated and depressed young woman trying to get her voice heardthrough rebellious poetry. Liam Cunningham fares a lot better as one ofthe two love interests and produces the only sympathetic character ofthe film.
A middle aged writer rescues a young woman from drowning near theshores of South Africa. Although he is much older, they fall in loveright there and then and soon some obvious complications ensue. Thereis hardly a likable or interesting character in this wanderinghistorical drama about the poet Ingrid Jonker (Carice van Houten). Itdeals primarily with the mentally troubled Jonker and her precariousrelationships with men, including her father (Rutger Hauer) who is amember of the apartheid regime she strongly opposes. The film never picks up any speed and the absence of a discernible plotline or a compelling narrative makes for a very pallid viewingexperience. Hauers script is particularly one-note but the same couldbe said of van Houten who seemed to be out of her depth in the role ofa frustrated and depressed young woman trying to get her voice heardthrough rebellious poetry. Liam Cunningham fares a lot better as one ofthe two love interests and produces the only sympathetic character ofthe film.