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B. Reeves Eason
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
'Khartoum' is a grossly under-rated film that deserves much more.It is an outstanding recreation of the late 19th century war in Sudan where British forces led by the enigmatic General Gordon fought against fanatical tribesmen under the leadership (spell?) of the self proclaimed 'Mahdi'(expected one).Charlton Heston plays Gordon with his usual efficiency but the scene stealer is undoubtedly Sir Laurence Olivier as the 'Mahdi'.His make-up,accent,wardrobe and sheer charisma truly make for heady viewing.The cinematography is excellent and the flavor of the times is captured beautifully.The action scenes are terrific and the score compliments the goings-on perfectly. I would personally rate it on par with the much respected and much loved 'Lawrence of Arabia',which was in much the same mould as this,though made 4 years earlier in 1962.
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