Talking Movies: Remembering Barry – Episode 6

Welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling. This week we embark on episode six of Remembering Barry, a heartfelt tribute to the beloved entertainment journalist and film critic Barry Ronge.

A rare privilege, I stepped into Barry’s tranquil Johannesburg home and conversed with his partner of 47 years, Albertus van Dyk, LightStrider to many. Their starry-eyed story unfolds beautifully, a love that blossomed against their shared passion for the silver screen.

Albertus, we are now in the sanctuary garden and this is such a magical place. So many plants and creatures buzzing about and doing their thing, and bees and wasps and bumblebees and cats and birds.

And as you can hear from the birdsong, it is just a full garden and one that has been just so loved in so many ways, with so many different little places that you can just sit, relax and enjoy yourself. And I’m enjoying myself right now with Albertus and we’re talking about Barry, Barry Ronge.

Thank you and welcome to our garden, our sanctuary away from the world. And I call it my unicorn garden, but thank you, thank you for being here.

Such an honour, such an enchanting surprise. I knew… I had an inkling of what to expect, but it really has just blown me away. And as we were taking a tour of the house, it just goes on and on and each room is filled with books. And this is just paradise for a lot of people I know… and it just is such a peaceful space. And just what we were saying now is how it’s like a paradox, because it’s in the middle of Joburg, but is worlds away.

It is worlds away, Spling, you know. It is our paradises where we get our energy. And this is the other perception of Barry. Barry sat in the movies. He’s not outdoorsy, he’s not sporty. Well, this is sporty. It’s being in nature, it’s being healed by nature, inspired by nature. And that is what inspired us in our unicorn garden.

Yeah, speaking about paradoxes, you know, I think Barry was an intensely private individual. I think everyone sort of got a sense for that. But one that’s also on the stage as well. So it was this interesting paradoxical sort of side to him. And I think that’s probably why I like to think of describing him as having gone viral before the internet, because all of these things just created such a wonderful contrast and just such a larger-than-life personality and character. What would you say gave him such appeal?

His friendliness, his being approachable. But then the allure of Barry Ronge. Who is this man? Where does he live? What does he do? And that is what we kept private for our own sanity and survival. And yes, the other world that is for me is private. And now being shared by people who came to look at the house, to buy the house. You being here, which is lovely for me. And I really say thank you for Barry and me.

And it was important because it’s what nurtured us to go back into the world, but to come back here after stressful lives and busy lives and daggers in the back. A most fantastical life. And to be back here, it feeds your soul. You know, you can feel.

I’m sad that I never got a chance to meet Barry, being such an inspiration to me and such a great influence on my career. But there was this one chance opportunity. I can at least say I was in the same room as him. And that was on the R44 in Stellenbosch. I was visiting the large strawberry… What would you call it? A farmer’s market or something where they just sell strawberries and honeycomb and all sorts of weird and wonderful things. Dried fruit. It’s just such a wonderful little stopover. But it’s got this massive strawberry outside, which makes it very easy to spot.

But I was visiting with some friends and I remember seeing you and Barry walking into the store. And it was just such a funny moment for me because I ordinarily would actually stop someone and say, Hi, I’m Spling or I’m Stephen and I know who you are and I respect your work. And really just wanted to say hello.

But in that moment, I just it was for me, the timing was just bad because we were leaving, you guys were arriving. And also bearing in mind that I knew that you were mindful of your privacy. And I didn’t want to spoil that if you were having a good time. I didn’t want to be that weird fanboy situation where I’m interrupting that. So I just thought to myself, I’m going to have another opportunity at some point. Never happened. But being immersed in his world now has really just been such a wonderful substitute for that. And meeting you and just this conversation has just been fantastic.

Thank you. And I do remember that day because that stopover, the strawberry farm on the way to Stellenbosch was our favorite place. And I do remember that day specifically because there was an energy and I thought, wow, that is when I realized there was something special. And then I let it be until Barry died. And I listened to your obituary to darling, and I thought, I wonder who this man is? You didn’t get time to speak to Barry, but we are now speaking with Barry about Barry for Barry.

Barry Ronge’s legacy shines through our collective memories. In this spirit, we seek a library or museum for a 1700 film book collection, where his passion for movies can endure. Together, we can ensure Barry’s love for art, film, and culture continues to light our way. Share your ideas and join us on this mission at splingmovies.com.