The High Price of Complicity
Bloch's only protest of the system was expressed in his decision to leave his homeland and reject its Apartheid government.
The day after his graduation from medical school, Dr. Bloch left for Israel. He subsequently moved to Melbourne, Australia, where he established a very successful psychiatric practice, became a highly respected university professor and a renown author whose writings about mental health have been published around the globe. However, despite his success, Dr. Bloch is plagued by guilt he feels about his failure to do anything to change conditions for non-whites -- his classmates and others whom he knew, and knew to have been discriminated against -- in South Africa.
Rod Freedman's documentary begins as Dr. Bloch prepares to attend his medical school class reunion, the prospect of which seems to bring his feelings of guilt to the fore. He is an ethical, progressive man, with high standards for his own behavior, which he measures against the actions of those who did actively protest against Apartheid.
Persistent Feelings of Guilt
Dr. Bloch regrets having capitulated. He thinks he should have stood his ground, and that he and his white classmates should have refused to do whatever their 'colored' colleagues were not allowed to do.
Much about Bloch's emotional state is revealed during intense on camera conversations between Bloch and his teenage son, Aaron, who is about to visit South Africa for the first time when he accompanies his father to the reunion.
The relationship between Bloch and son is problematical. It has clearly suffered from Bloch's emotional blocks, which have left Aaron feeling left out. Harshly critical of his father, Aaron narrates the film, providing insider insights into Bloch's character and concerns.
Bloch has decided to ask the reunion committee for permission to invite his former classmates to a formal reconciliation meeting at which whites can apologize to non-whites -- including one Chinese student -- in the class. He gets a green light, but doesn't know whether his classmates -- whites or non-whites -- will attend the meeting, or what those who do will say to each other after all these years. Bloch also seeks out black South Africans who worked at the medical school or for his family, and asks their forgiveness.
Bloch's story is compelling and Freedman's documentary is an affecting study of the effects of racism.
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