Set in the India of the British Raj. All the Indians are portrayed as untrustworthy, plotting to overthrow their British masters. The only 'loyal' Indian is Prince Azim who tries to warn ... See full summary »
Set in the India of the British Raj. All the Indians are portrayed as untrustworthy, plotting to overthrow their British masters. The only 'loyal' Indian is Prince Azim who tries to warn the British of the impending revolt by tapping out messages on the Drum of the title. Written by
Steve Crook <email@example.com>
A rare opportunity to see a rip-roaring, all-colour, flag-waving vision of the British Empire - made by and for the people who supported and believed in it. Produced in 1938, less than a decade before a tired, post-war Britain finally quit India, this is an almost unique chance to witness the Empire's own view of itself. As such, it is a significant historical document.
Produced and Directed by the Korda Brothers from their London Studios, many of its scenes were actually shot in the Northwest Frontier of India, (modern Pakistan.) With the participation of the Gordon Highlanders and Indian Army, this has a spectacle that dwarfs many Hollywood features. The story, with its loyal "good" Indians, and treacherous "bad" Indians runs deep with the paternalist ideology which provided the justification for the later Empire. With a firm-jawed main character called Caruthers, (Roger Livesey), whose wife cannot endure the constant beating of the drums, the film seems to be the source of more than a few imperial clichés. Raymond Massey joins the cast as a convincingly sinister villain, and Sabu is the young princely hero. And although it jars today with its casual patronising of the Indians, and an assumption of an almost divine British right to rule far-off lands, it is a grand epic that reflects the last hurrah of a now-vanished era.
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