Ella Blue is a South African mini-series produced by FremantleMedia and set in the year 1961, which tells the story of a woman's physical, emotional and spiritual journey within the constraints of a small, remote fishing village on the Cape Coast.
Ella and her family have lived peacefully there for generations, until the day it is announced that the Census Official is arriving to classify every person in the small, secluded community according to their colour.
The mini-series premiered on M-Net on Wednesday 12 March 2008, at 20h00. There are six episodes in the series.
What would you do if everything you knew and held dear to you was suddenly ripped away? Would you fight for what you knew was right?
Ella Blue tells the story of one woman who defies all the odds by going the extra mile for her people – the people of the lagoon. In doing so, she becomes a name. But at what price does this come?
Ella Blue is a love story, on many different levels. It is a story of unrequited love, of love that prevails despite the socially accepted norms, and loyalty to those who you love most. It is also a story of murder, betrayal and ultimately, revenge.
Set in the year 1961, Ella Blue tells the story of a woman's physical, emotional and spiritual journey through the process of race classification.
Ella and her family have lived peacefully for generations in a remote fishing village on the Cape Coast, until the day it is announced that the Census Official is arriving to classify every person in the small, secluded community according to their colour.
Bit by bit the intimate little community is torn apart and is ultimately destroyed by the political policies of the day.
Ella Blue introduces us to a host of quirky characters too. There's Halfpad, the club-footed fisherman who has impregnated the daughter of one of the town's most prominent fishermen out of wedlock, the mother of whom is the village clairvoyant.
And there is Mr Cohen, the Jewish trader who brings his boat across the water once a month to mostly barter household good for dried fish which is the lagooners' greatest source of income – he is also their only contact with the outside world on the other side of the lagoon.
It is he who brings them the news that the Census Official is on his way.
Ella and her people have lived in Blue's Bay, a tiny hamlet on the promontory-side of a lagoon, in almost complete isolation for generations.
She was a descendant of Scandinavian whale hunters, who established a whaling station there a century or more ago and who formed a community with the local people.
In appearance the villagers, or “lagooners” as they called themselves, ranged from Caucasian to Negroid and it was not impossible for the entire human colour spectrum to be present within the same family.
Therefore, they were also referred to as Lagoon-Basters. The stigma of 'being of colour' or 'borderliners' never really affected them as they all thought of themselves as white people.
Shortly after 1950 the effect of the Group Areas Act was being felt across the Western Cape as the 'borderliners' were being classified.
In February 1958 the Cape Times reported the Minister of the Interior as saying that the Population Registration Act was assisting people by removing uncertainty and unease and the "clouds that hovered over them".
However, at the end of 1961 the newspaper reported that there were at least 20,000 people in the Cape Peninsula who were still uncertain whether they were officially "white" or "coloured".
For more than 10 years Ella and her people were left unhindered. And rightly so, they believed. They were white. They knew that their family trees were full of Khoi-Khoi blood, but they felt that the past is the past and should remain there.
They voted for the 1948 Nationalist government as one man and the villagers understood that the newly elected prime minister, Dr. Malan, promised his loyal supporters that in return for their support they would remain what they are: white.
But then in 1961 a boat brought a government official across the water to them – the village was only accessible on horseback or by boat. The lagooners knew that he was a representative of the Department of Census and Statistics.
The official, a Mister Müller, had a camera with which he took black and white passport photographs of each of them, and when he left he said: “I'll be back with your envelopes. And then you'll know what you are.”
With these few seemingly innocuous words the bedrock of Ella's people was first shaken and finally shattered – and set Ella Blue off on a journey to, in the words of Lord Alfred Tennysson, "...become a name".
The people of Blue's Bay are introduced. Aunt Kittie has a vision that the Devil is coming to them to fetch the person who had murdered Bok's father twenty years ago.
The trader Mister Cohen comes to the lagoon for his monthly visit. He brings the news that a race classification official is on his way to classify people in the little community.
Liela is confined to Ella's house but that doesn't keep Bok from sneaking in to visit her. Müller, the government representative assigned the task to classify the people of Blue's Bay, visits the Judge.
Liela confronts Mister Blue in church and the truth comes out as to who killed Bok's father. Ella is forced into making a far-reaching decision.
Ella seeks legal advice from The Judge about the family's predicament. The Judge will intervene on their behalf.
The government official, Müller, arrives to classify the lagooners and take their pictures.
Mister Blue and Bok have a physical confrontation with the villagers looking on. An angry Bok sets off for Ella's house.
Preparations for the double wedding are underway. Müller visits the Judge and the two men decide on the classification of the lagooners.
The big wedding takes place but halfway through the celebrations Moby gives birth to a girl.
On the lagoon Billy spots the naval whaler approaching and bringing with it the results of the classification.
Müller arrives with the classification documents and chaos ensues. Mister Blue is arrested and taken to prison.
The lagooners react very differently to their classification.
Finally Mister Blue is brought back to the lagoon. He learns that Ella had sold all the land to the Judge in return for his freedom.
The Judge puts forward a scheme to save Blue's Bay and its people from which they can all benefit. Howard does not agree with his father's motives.
The lagooners are evicted from their homes and Bok is shot in the process, which leaves Liela to make a far-reaching decision.
Ella and her people are facing a uncertain future.
Nathalie Boltt as Ella BlueBok (Nico Panagio) and Liela (Nina Milner)Mr. Blue (Tertius Meintjies) and EllaElla on the beach