After an Egyptian army, commanded by British officers, is destroyed in a battle in the Sudan in the 1880's, the British government is in a quandary. It does not want to commit a British ... See full summary »
Charlton Heston stars as an American soldier behind Italian lines in World War II. In order to communicate German movements to the Allies, he uses carrier pigeons fitted with messages. As ... See full summary »
All star cast heads up this 1970 remake of the William Shakespeare classic tale of the betrayal of the the Roman senate against their emperor, the plotting and scheming that led up to the ... See full summary »
After the murder of her lover Caesar, Egypt's queen Cleopatra needs a new ally. She seduces his probable successor Marc Antony. This develops into real love and slowly leads to a war with the other possible successor - Octavius.
Diplomats, soldiers and other representatives of a dozen nations fend off the siege of the International Compound in Peking during the 1900 Boxer Rebellion. The disparate interests unite ... See full summary »
After an Egyptian army, commanded by British officers, is destroyed in a battle in the Sudan in the 1880's, the British government is in a quandary. It does not want to commit a British military force to a foreign war but they have a commitment to protect the Egyptians in Khartoum. They decide to ask General Charles "Chinese" Gordon, something of a folk hero in the Sudan as he had cleared the area of the slave trade, to arrange for the evacuation. Gordon agrees but also decides to defend the city against the forces of the Mahdi - the expected one - and tries to force the British to commit troops. Written by
Christopher Plummer was approached to play the role of Stewart, but he wanted too much money for it. See more »
Gordon has a friend in Khartoum executed for stealing grain. The man is killed by firing squad. In spite of being shot by a number of riflemen, his white clothing show absolutely no sign of injury. See more »
It is sometimes wise, Gordon Pasha, to provide the man with a few sunny hours of fraudulent hope so that when night comes he will have a more perfect inward vision of the truth of his hopelessness.
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This is my favorite epic, because every element of the story - religion, politics, tactics, and the clash of two brilliant personalities - is given detailed and intelligent treatment. Heston is great in this kind of role (a Christian patriarch...how very fitting), and Olivier's performance lends the Mahdi considerable nobility, even though he's obviously the "bad" guy.
Post 9/11, this is quite a strange one to watch, since it's not very different from the crisis we face today! Ah, the endless cycles of history.
But I digress. This is literate, fun, and relevant entertainment about a little-known period in history (little known to Americans, anyway). I've done some research on Gordon and the Mahdi, and from what I've learned, I can say that the film is pretty accurate. The Hollywoodized parts, such as Gordon's face-to-face meetings with the Mahdi, were added for the sake of drama. Since they work so well, I think their inclusion was actually a great idea.
The direction is admittedly flat sometimes. Heston acknowledged this once, but maintained that the film is still among his best. What really matters is that the script hums along, the acting is superb (Ralph Richardson!), and the battles are well choreographed. For whatever reason, when all's said and done, this beats the heck out of "Lawrence of Arabia" in my book. I suppose I'm just a sucker for compelling religious conflicts.
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