Two of Doris Lessing's recurring themes come together here: the descent into madness, and the debilitating effect of the environment (in this case, the oppressively permanent swelter of Southern Africa). In a courageously abandoned performance, Karen Black, overdressed and anxious about spinsterhood, leaves the relative social and physical comforts of the town for marriage with a none-too-successful bush farmer (Thaw). Installed in the ramshackle homestead, her automatic and unconsidered racism (it's only 1960) towards the African workers, and her pent-up loathing of the heat and the mean little farm, drive her towards complete breakdown and the film's violent, quasi-mystical resolution. A dramatically potent adaptation which, while seriously polemical, is also shot through with the hallucinatory and the poetic.
Cast and crew