A successful business woman, living the cosmopolitan life in South Africa, falls in love and marries someone considered her complete opposite, a bush farmer. Leaving her city home behind, the woman moves to her husband's home far out in the country and is forced to adjust to a lifestyle completely foreign to her. The pressures of trying to acclimate herself in her new environment takes it toll on the woman, which has her ending up in the arms of another man.
Rhodesian-born maverick filmmaker Michael Raeburn is deeply intimate with the South African landscape, and his first feature is a truly iconoclastic film - an Afrikaans-language orgy of incest and bloodletting.
Based on Doris Lessing's novel, it is a haunting, obsessive story of a secretary from the city who marries a well-meaning farmer. Out in the middle of nowhere her racial- and class-consciousness comes into bizarre flowering as she alternately lusts after and abuses the black farm foreman. When she attempts to return to the city, only to come back to the farm in desperation, the stage is set for a particularly arid South African tragedy.
Production: SFI, Sweden & ITM, London & Chibote Ltd, Zambia
Based on the novel by DORIS LESSING
Written and directed by MICHAEL RAEBURN
Producer: Mark Forstater
Camera: BILLE AUGUST
Production Designer: Disley Jones
Editor: Tom Shwalm
Starring: Karen Black, John Thaw, and John Kani.
Distribution: International cinema and television
"Karen Black is excellent as a lonely woman who marries farmer John Thaw and cannot adjust to life in the African woodland" ***
- Leonard Maltins's Guide.
Selection of reviews:-
* "Karen Black triumphs in one of the most demanding roles of her career. The film takes us into a world as beautiful as it is harsh, and we can all but feel the heat that's so unbearable. It ends on a note of authentic ambiguity that few films attain"
Kelvin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
* "Brilliantly reflects the uncommon intensity and insight of Doris Lessing's work"
Judy Stone, San Francisco Chronicle
* "Director Raeburn has elicited understated, finely tuned performances"
Steven Holden, New York Times
* "Facinating. Black gives her finest performance tracing the sexual repression and despairing angers of a woman on the edge"
Judith Crist, WOR-TV
* "Shows us the African landscape in a hundred exquisite details and large panoramas, and the screen is so filled with light and movement that I had the feeling I could walk right in it"
Nancy Scott, San Francisco Examiner
* "Location footage is stunning in this handsome, high-quality production"
United Kingdom :
* "Doris Lessing is a novelist of distinction, how reassuring to find hertalent positivley shining forth from The Grass Is Singing"
Daily Telegraph, UK
* "It has courage and crackle.. full of fine, barbed meditations on barbarism, both black and white"
* "Fine literary edaptation. Karen outstanding. Michael Raeburn directs with an appropriate mystical edge"
The Guardian, UK
* "This dramatically potent adaptation has visual authenticity.. script and direction capture the quality of Lessing's best writing"
* "A film Peter Weir might have made had not Michael Raeburn got there first"
New Musical Express.
* "John Thaw - a superb, unstinting performance. One of the few films which treats Africa not as a political problem or a suitable location for racey adventure, but as an environment that dictates the human drama of its inhabitants"
Daily Mail, UK
* "The atmosphere evoked is one of considerable tension. Raeburn has brought it all together very well and created a succint and very interesting film"
* "'The Grass Is Singing' is a Third World'Stromboli' with K. Black in the Ingrid Bergman part"
* "Provides the exhilaration of a drama well spun. There is an emotional tension of classical tragedy"
* "Steaming atmosphere.. The film's strength is in the moment where man stands against the environment"
Svenska Dagbladet, Sweden
* "Has the psychic power of a strange and terrible dream. As a metaphor for the traumas of our country it may well be prophetic"
Cape Times, South Africa.
2011 - Anthology Film Archives (New York) - April 2011
* This screening is part of: UNITED WE STAND: SOUTH AFRICAN CINEMA DURING APARTHEID