Cleopatra Music & Films, with sales and distribution expertise provided by MVD Entertainment Group, has picked Apr. 24 for the DVD debut of writer/director Sean Else’s brutal war drama, Blood and Glory.
Set during the Anglo-Boer War and based on actual events (think: Breaker Morant), we are introduced to Boer farmer and fighter Willem Morkel (Stian Bam), who loses his wife and child to marauding British soldiers. He is taken captive and like his fellow Boers, he is shipped off to St. Helena Island, the most remote populated island on the planet (in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, halfway between South Africa and Argentina) — the same place that Napoleon was shipped off to nearly a century earlier. And like Napoleon, the Boer prisoners figured that they would meet the same fate there … death.
In interviews, South African filmmaker Sean Else took the events of St. Helena — where at one point over 9,000 prisoners were held in absolutely deplorable conditions — and blended actual historical figures to create his characters.
There are three storylines intertwined in Blood and Glory, with the first being that Morkel, who Else based on South African rugby legend Dougie “Sommie” Morkel, which leads us to the second element, rugby and how it became ingrained in South African culture as a result of the events that took place on St. Helena in 1901 and 1902.
The third storyline is that of “witness” Katherine Sterndale (Charlotte Salt), who, according to Else, is a blend of Emily Hobhouse (a British women who exposed the harsh treatment of Boer women and children in camps run by the British) and Emmiline Pankhurst (a famed British Suffragette who actively campaigned against British imperialism during this period).
Once Morkel arrives at St. Helena, he comes into conflict with the British prison commander, Colonel Swannell (played by Grant Swanby), whose demeanor and treatment of the Boer prisoners is larger drawn from the real Breaker Morant.
Morkel has nothing to lose — he is defeated — with his wife and child murdered, but when a fellow prisoner is to be executed, he offers the Colonel a deal … if the Boer prisoners can defeat the superior British rugby team, his life will be traded for the condemned man. Swannell, goes him one better — Boers win, you die; British win, you both die.
He gives the prisoners 30 days to build a team, knowing full well what the outcome will be. History has a strange way of taking the impossible and making legends … Blood and Glory is such a story.