Cry, the Beloved Country is based on the book of the same name by Alan Paton. The story follows the lives of two men who both live in South Africa, but have very different lives. Reverend Stephen Kumalo (James Earl Jones) is a black man. He must go to Johannesburg after his son, Absalom (Eric Miyeni), goes missing. He believes that Johannesburg is an immoral city, and his beliefs are unfortunately proven true. He finds that his son is being held in prison for the death of a white man, who was an activist for racial justice. The white man's father is James Jarvis (Richard Harris), a neighbor of Stephen. James must go to Johannesburg to deal with the death of his son, whom he has kept distant due to his own racist beliefs. After reading some of his son's letters, James comes to terms with apartheid and the loss of his son.