Pure Race Review
So if you're Steven Spielberg, James Cameron or Peter Jackson then the studios are more than willing to throw countless millions of dollars at your projects in the knowledge than more than often it would be a worthwhile investment and those millions will be returned to them many times over.
If you're Rocco DeVilliers though you beg steal or borrow, get your mates and family to star in the feature, shoot on S-VHS over a four year period and produce what is essentially a student film. Release this straight onto the DVD market and you and you alone get your cash back. It's the law of economics; the US market place is large enough for Rocco to have made his money back on this feature. What did it cost him though... $15,000.00. For that a main feature would not have been able to hire the caterers for a week never mind film and release a full film. You have to admire his determination.
It's a simple enough story which has been done before, two strangers Carl (Greg Haynes) and Tony (Fred Hunting) literally bump into each other and to their surprise they are about to be car sharing buddies on a long trip home from college; one's white the other black. The two guys though hit it off quite well and they're looking forward to chatting away as their journey continues. Unfortunately though that journey is interrupted by a flat tyre and our two heroes make their way to an out of the way farm to seek assistance.
The daughter of the owner is shockingly surprised to see that Carl is black, much so that she drops a glass of refreshment she was about to offer him. It all seems a little convoluted but we understand why when Carl and Tony go to help to look for a jack, and in the barn of the farm he stumbles across a white Aryan meeting, Adolf Hitler pictures on the wall, one armed salutes the lot. Not too pleased at having their meeting interrupted, especially by someone with a coloured friend they hunt and capture both Carl and Tony. Now they both have to work out how to extricate themselves from this situation.
The film isn't that great, let's admit it; but really I don't think that's the point of the exercise here. The point for me is that DeVilliers at least had a go at achieving his dream of being a film maker. Since that time he's managed to put together a couple of more films, Only Once and The Flyboys so you can't say that he's moved into the limelight but you can say that he's determined enough to stick with it and continue what he enjoys doing the most. In his films though he's credited with all aspects of the film's production; not only writing and directing the feature but also responsible for lighting, some stunts, editing and even make-up. It is this determination which requires a little respect.
The story has been done before to much greater effect in such films as Cry Freedom, Malcolm X, Mississippi Burning and of course the excellent Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and although DeVilliers does make a fine enough stab at the genre it doesn't really add anything new, there's nothing in there that we haven't already seen before. Characterisation is by the numbers with the archetypal students who start off on the wrong footing but become friends for life, the daughter finally understanding the impact her father's activities have upon her and others lives and the one member of the Aryan group who realises perhaps that this is no ballgame and wants out.
As this film was shot over a four year period the director had some interesting obstacles to over come. Frequently in any one scene most of the cast members couldn't be available all at the same time so they had to shoot one portion of the scene then perhaps a year later complete it when the other cast member(s) became available. To do this and still achieve the level of continuity that this film has is fair praise indeed.
As the film progresses you can't help but watch to see how DeVilliers makes the best of what's available to him but ultimately it really degenerates into a hide and seek affair with the protagonists fleeing only to be chased and ultimately resulting in scenes very reminiscent to some degree of the gorge in Deliverance. Ultimately I enjoyed Pure Race but it's not something I would really go back to for multiple viewings, in saying that though I have to give credit to DeVilliers for taking his dreams to celluloid and for continuing to do so.