Talking Movies: Remembering Barry – Episode 9

Welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling. This week we embark on episode 8 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. Their starry-eyed story unfolds beautifully, a love that blossomed against their shared passion for the silver screen.

When you get to a point where you want to look back and reference some of the stuff, then it does feel a bit like you’ve lost chapters.

But that’s, I think, where your website helps, hey? You can actually do a search and you can get it all together.

And even the internet, it’s got this archive.org, and they take snapshots of websites, so even if your website ceases to exist, you’ll still be able to look back and see what was there.


Yeah, so it’s quite interesting with the new digital age, there are setbacks in terms of things being a little bit more toast of the day, but it is quite useful as an archive tool because it’s automatically archiving things and making it easier for you to cross-reference and search things, even with images. Most people don’t realise on their cell phones that they can actually search their gallery for specific things and get all the pictures of a dog or all the pictures of a cat, just by searching for cat or dog.

Yes, I’m just finding that in my phone. In fact, that was one of the joys after Barry died, because I’ve taken pictures for us all the time. And then I got reminded, oh, on the 2nd of February 2023, you took this picture of Barry in the garden, and I thought, wow, I never looked at that picture. And then I looked at that picture in my grief and I thought, I do remember he was passing over, he was preparing to become an angel in this garden, transitioning. Yes, you know that you’re getting older.

And I looked at that again for the first time and I realised, wow, we were fortunate because we spent all that time together. He didn’t just drop dead in my arms. It took a transitioning of a soul passing over, and the honour of us being together in our relationship to allow that sacred space, mystical space, spiritual space, to pass over, where you say, thank you, I love you, and breathe your last breath and you think, wow.

And then, because we don’t talk about death, we have phoned the cremation people and she said, no, Albert, this is load shedding. We can only fetch Barry so much at this time, but you must get the ambulance people to certify that there’s actually no energy left in his body. So I prayed that somebody kind would come to this property. And when they did arrive, it was quite extraordinary. No energy, no electricity in that body, gone. But I was with Barry’s soul passing over for four hours.

And it’s the greatest gift of my life. And I can never be the same, but it’s so beautiful, so spiritual. Doesn’t make grief easier, but we don’t talk about it much. So I don’t want this to be about grief. It’s about honour and respect. And again, memory, you know, we come from hieroglyphics to books to computers.

No the world has changed. And I remember you saying that in terms of Barry’s career, that when things really just shifted more onto online spaces and social media, that was a signal that the next age was upon him in terms of film reviews and just how people interact and engage with audiences.

It’s also the realisation, you know, when you’ve been in the movie industry and the theatre industry and glamour and the time to exodus when some young guns say, oh, we can do that. We can sit in a movie theatre and eat popcorn and cake and look at a movie and write something. Yes, everybody can. Everybody in the new age with a clever thumb can push a button and write a review, but it’s not where we come from.

So when you realise that the time is coming, let’s exit. And yes, it was important to say, darling, I think the time has come to review, to see another option. Nothing is forever. Barry and I, we always used to say, don’t look back. We might turn into a salt pillar. If it’s a good memory, look back. But don’t turn to a salt pearl. Life is still exciting. To be curious, to be happy, to be excited, to be spontaneous. And that is why we separated ourselves from public life. One of many reasons, but I’m so happy we did. It was valuable.

My time, our time. How fortunate that two outsiders would meet in the cinema, which they loved, fall down to earth together and start an extraordinary life of 45 years, side-by-side, as outsiders, as being together. And even now, after Barry died, you hear the respect for us.

And it’s because we were real. And you think, wow, that’s amazing. It’s helped me grieve in a different way and heal. Seventeen months after Barry died, the parking garage security men would come and say, “where’s your brother? What happened to madala?” I’m sorry he went to heaven. “We’re so sorry.” They didn’t read his columns. They saw people who were together and they were affected by us. Wow, that’s amazing. That is such a tribute to us forever, because that’s who we are and will always be.

Barry Ronge’s legacy shines through our collective memories. In this spirit, we seek a library or museum for his 1,700 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.