R&A 16: Shepherds and Butchers

1 h 47 min  |  Love&Anarchy  |  Release Date: 16.9.2016

Shepherds, because the prison guards of 1980s Pretoria feed, wash and exercise their inmates. Butchers, because then they escort them to the gallows. They march them in groups of seven to a room where they’re placed between a floor that will drop and a rope that will break them.

In 1987, 164 South Africans (the majority black) were killed in this way. In South African director Oliver Schmitz’s drama, which is based on real events, one guard, Leon Labuschagne (Garion Dowds), is left to pay the cost. Seventeen years old, fresh on the job (...) Leon soon becomes party to multiple executions. After enough of them he snaps, driving a busload of black men off the road with his car and gunning seven down dead.

His defence arrives in the form of ace attorney John Weber (Steve Coogan), a passionate opponent of the death penalty (...).


Playing one of his least comical roles ever, Coogan does a good job conveying the righteousness of his character’s long uphill battle against the institution that both built and broke his client (...). Production designer Mike Berg does an excellent job recreating the terror of a functioning gallows, while sound designer Nicky de Beer makes sure we hear every tug of the rope and crack of the neck.


Language: English, Afrikaans / Subtitles: English


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