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Movie Review: The Boers at the End of the World
Written by Spling   
Saturday, 19 March 2016 17:09

The Boers at the End of the World is a remarkable documentary from writer-director, Richard Finn Gregory, who preceded it with the short, The Last Boers of Patagonia. In Argentina's Patagonia region exists a farm community of Afrikaans-speaking people. They're like a lost tribe, having preserved the traditions and language of the Boer ("farmer") culture for over 100 years. Their apparent dislocation stems back to South Africa in 1902, after their forebears witnessed the destruction of their farms during the Anglo-Boer war.

Sailing across the Atlantic to settle in lands offered to them by Argentina's government, they have remained, working the land as Boers and maintaining the archaic language, cooking traditional foods and singing old folk songs. However, over time their heritage has been eroded and it seems that the older folks in this community are the last generation. A documentary crew traveled to Patagonia to discover this treasure trove of Afrikaans history and identity... and The Boers at the End of the World is testament to this voyage of discovery.

The Boers at the End of the World is comparable with Searching for Sugar Man and God Grew Tired of Us. The documentary about finding the enigmatic musician and South African icon, Rodriguez, took us by surprise with an incredible true story. This film also deals with reviving a culture and traveling across the world to reconnect with the past. Both films have a strange tension between the past and present, capturing a string of wonderful characters in a moving and cathartic manner.

The Boers at the End of the World

"Die Engelsman wat nie Afrikaans verstaan nie, gaan koop 'n perd by 'n boer..."

Then, the God Grew Tired of Us element is witnessed in our subjects through their fish-out-of-water experience back in their homeland. Both films deal with a community trying to make sense of their new surroundings and the implications for their future. The naivety of the characters is endearing and their transition from isolated rural areas to built-up cities is quite fascinating.

The Boers at the End of the World features some breathtaking footage that makes it almost seem like a Western, perhaps tipping the hat to the original settlers and their pioneering spirit. It's an amazing undertaking when you consider the film-makers probably had to condense hundreds if not thousands of hours of footage into a feature-length film.

The older gentlemen become the primary focus, both colourful and entertaining in their candid approach to life as Afrikaners in Argentina. While their farming and livestock business isn't as prosperous as it used to be, they strive on... proud of their heritage, yet weary of the dilution.

The documentary will appeal to South Africans, especially Afrikaans-speaking audiences, who have more personal insights to the in-depth cultural exploration and immersive travelogue. The Boers at the End of the World has a familiarity to it and only finds its emotional hook and true focus after passing through some uneven perspective-shifting historical territory.

The story of identity and preservation is spellbinding and the subjects bring The Boers at the End of the World to life with their heartfelt stories. The cross-continental journey bridges a century and remains layered and rewarding with a strange melancholy at its core.

The bottom line: Fascinating

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 March 2016 17:22