Review: Modder en Bloed (Blood and Glory)

An emotional journey into the heart and soul of a war that divided a nation.

Review by Daniel Dercksen

In this emotional journey into the heart and soul of a war that divided a nation, reconciled revenge forces underdogs to triumph in the spirit of togetherness.

Modder en Bloed 3

It’s a poignant story of man versus himself when incarcerated with other Boer prisoners-of-war on the island of St. Helena in the Atlantic Ocean, but also the story of Afrikaner men tortured emotionally and physically by a monstrous British tyrant during the Anglo Boer War of 1899-1902, as well as the story of a British woman who redeems herself through the horrors she witnesses.

These three narratives are neatly woven into a tapestry of suspense and drama, where the humanity of tortured souls is tested and the evil of dark souls are confronted.

Boer prisoners-of-war are subjected to the most brutal violence and degrading treatment.

They are constantly humiliated by the British commander and his soldiers in an effort to break them down emotionally, and to physically cripple them.

But, despite the untold torture they had to endure and the inhumane suffering they had to bear, their resistance and quest for vengeance, by whatever means, became stronger and stronger by the day.

So, when the gauntlet was thrown down, Willem and his fellow prisoners rose to the challenge, eventually leading to sweet revenge in the most important rugby match of their lives.

Under the thoughtful direction of writer-director Sean Else, the ensemble cast shines, particularly Sian Bam as a Boer warrior and family man, whose wife and only child were killed by British soldiers; Grant Swanby as a hot-headed Imperialist who is in charge of the English concentration camp and rages with a consuming hatred for the Afrikaner. It’s difficult to single out individual performances in such a strong cast, but it’s hard to ignore Marno van der Merwe as the cocky Boer, Altus Theart as a heroic stalwart, and Charlotte Salt as the British Imperialist.

The cast also features Bok van Blerk, Albert Maritz, Michael Richard, Edwin van der Walt, Jacques Bessenger, Altus Theart, Albert Pretorius and Deon Lotz. The British cast includes Charlotte Salt (Beowulf / The Tudors), Patrick Connolly (Inferno / Crushed), Nick Cornwall (Blood Loyal / Retribution) and Josh Myers (The Sweeney / Anti-Social).”

Read an interview with producer Henk Pretorius