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Based loosely on the poem by Rudyard Kipling, this takes place in British India during the Thuggee uprising. Three fun loving sergeants are doing fine until one of them wants to get married and leave the service. The other two trick him into a final mission where they end up confronting the entire cult by themselves as the British Army is entering a trap. This is of the "War is fun" school of movie making. It has the flavour of watching Notre Dame play an inferior high school team. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
Politically incorrect only to the historically ignorant
While it is fashionable in too many circles to condemn anything which portrays European colonialism generally, and the British Empire specifically, in a favorable light, a little historical knowledge will show that Kipling's story, as well as this superb film, are hardly the reactionary racist screed some would like to demote them to. Gunga Din is a regimental bhisti - a water carrier - and in 19th century India that meant that he had a job which guaranteed a place to sleep and food in a very brutal society. Considering that he was also an "untouchable" - a member of India's lowest caste - this was something. Colonel Weed is correct in saying "he had no official status as a soldier" - bhistis were non-military auxiliaries. As for his loyalty to the British, there were many Indians who clearly preferred British rule to that of their fellows - and not just the maharajas and princes.
If you read the story - and watch the movie with an objective eye - at the end, all the major characters have nothing but respect for Gunga Din. Sergeant MacChesney (Victor McLaglen) is clearly shamed by the fact that Din, in the end, was not only the better soldier but the better man - he sacrificed himself to prevent the ambush and massacre of the British column. The most telling example that the movie doesn't "put down" Gunga Din is at the end when Colonel Weed posthumously appoints the former regimental bhisti as a Corporal in the regiment. Corporal was a BRITISH rank - the equivalent Indian rank was Havildar. So, he was appointed as a BRITISH non-commissioned officer who could command British troops - hardly an example of political incorrectness.
Yes, this is "men-as-buddies" flick. However, this movie has a special appeal to anyone who has actually served in the military - those are the types of friendships you make (you'll share your last drop of water with your mess mate) and keep for the rest of your days. It acknowledges that. So enjoy it - it is a rousing tale - and keep the PC-nonsense out of it. The bad guys lose in the end while the best man is recognized for his virtues - you don't even get that it in real life.
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