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18 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Sir Richard Burton, Dr. Stanley Livingston, An historic race

Author: andrew sears from los angeles
29 November 2001

This is the first mini-series in my memory, and perhaps one of the greatest ever. Two men compete to be the first European to find the source of the Nile River. In the early 1970's one would never have imagined such a conquest to be so challenging and epic. The music, the settings, the acting, and the direction are all so brilliant, this tv movie easily holds the same place in my memory as "Lawrence of Arabia." If anyone knows how to get the BBC to re-air this film, they'd be doing a great service to television history.

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15 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Excellent informative series

Author: Valerie ( from Los Angeles, California
3 June 2004

This series was one of the best that I have ever seen on TV. In trying to find out if it was available on VHS or DVD I discovered a web site that lets you vote and comment on your favorite movie or TV shows to put on DVD or VHS. It then sends your vote and comments to the company that owns the rights. As of this moment there are only 19 votes for this wonderful series to be released. So please take a moment and go to and register your vote. Hopefully enough people will see my message and get the count up so that this series will finally be released. This is the type of mini-series that I would love my grandchildren to see, so I will check on the site to see how the voting is going. Thanks.

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14 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Excellent series

Author: inframan from the lower depths
3 April 2002

I too wish this were available on playable media. It's an excellent presentation of (some of) the adventures of the most interesting man in western civilization, in my opinion. Burton spoke at least 27 different languages, opened up the eyes & consciousness of the west to the mysteries of India, Arabia & darkest Africa. First translated the Kama Sutra & Arabian Nights. First caucasian to enter Mecca & Medina disguised as a Muslim. Withstood blindness & a spear through the face in quest for the Nile. Greatest swordsman in England in his youth, etc etc. Oh, also packed a six-gun in the old west alongside some of the legends of the time. (Really!) Wadda guy.

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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Why has the Search for the Nile been pulled from all libraries and other sources?

Author: wra-5 from United States
11 August 2007

I have been looking for the series The Search for the Nile and have been unable to find this series in spite of the fact that it won the Golden Globe Award best TV special 1973. I have checked all university video libraries, the Smithsonian library, public libraries, all video sources even the BBC. No one has this series. WHY Why has it been pulled from all sources? If you have a copy of this series I would be interested in purchasing it.

This is one of the best series on Victorian Era exploration I have seen. It also give one an insight into Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton's life and character.


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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

One of the greatest mini-series of all time.

Author: Joseph Harder from warren michigan
21 May 2005

I saw this when I was 13 years old and I will never forget it.I have always loved this period of History( which is why I hate the fact I've never seen Mountains of The Moon),and this is a terrific treatment. It has one of the most literate scripts, and some of the most complex,fascinating characters, ever seen on the small screen.I will note, for instance, the brilliant performance by Kenneth Haigh as Sir Richard Francis of the most astonishing, half-mad half-genius figures in human history.everybody else is also superb, including the actress who played Burtons devoted, if bigoted , wife.This film belongs on it ever run on cable?

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A true romantic treatment of the search for the Nile's source

Author: Michael Johnston (ambrose) from Charlotte NC
1 September 2001

After watching Mountains of the Moon (1990), I was reminded of this excellent film made by the BBC for television in 1971. For reasons unknown to me, it has not been released in any home video format (as of 2001). The beautiful sweeping music of Smetana's Moldau and Kenneth Haigh's true Brit portrayal of Burton make this the romantic's choice for the film version of this story. The violence and graphic detail found in Mountains is absent in Search. I have always respected Michael Gough, who is perfect as the great David Livingstone. James Mason, one of the best narrators of all time, holds the mini-series together through its episodes. The BBC ought to release it so that we could have the chance to enjoy it as a whole.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

One of the four great geographic races of the 19th Century

Author: theowinthrop from United States
4 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are only two major motion films (as of January 2006) about the events involved with the search for the Nile River's sources. One is THE MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON, which detailed the collapse of the friendship and partnership of explorers Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke. The collapse was due to their different views on what was the source of the Nile (Lake Tanganyika or Lake Victoria). The other was STANLEY AND LIVINGSTON, but that film concentrated on the search (by Henry Morton Stanley) for Dr. David Livingston, missionary and explorer in 1871 - the Nile venture was secondary. Besides those two films, the rest is silence.

But in 1971 this six part series was created. Starring Kenneth Haigh as Burton, and Michael Gough as Livingston, it took the time to go through the careers of Burton, Speke, James Grant (Speke's second partner in exploration), Livingston (who got hung up seeing the source in some mythical huge fountains in central Africa), Samuel Baker (who was the first European to find Lake Albert), and Stanley, who finally settled the main issues of the source of the Nile, and the source of the Congo (Burton's Tanganyika). Added to the fine cast was the narration by James Mason, which kept the separate portions of the story straight.

The series technically was about the sources of the White Nile (the Blue Nile, which is also one of the two main branches of the Nile, was traced down by James Bruce, an 18th Century traveler in Ethiopia (then called Abyssinia) - but that was outside the scope of this series). Each hour followed the events that twisted and turned among the six leading explorers, in particular the tragedy of Speke (who probably killed himself to avoid disgrace debating Burton), and Stanley who became possessed as it were to find Livingston, and then to settle the entire matter. It took him five years of travel to get it straight - and he lost a large number of the men on his exploration. Burton, blamed by many for the death of Speke, dropped out of the race after 1864 believing he had found the source - only to find he had not. But by the time he learned the truth, he was better known as a man of letters who had given the definitive translation of the classic THE ARABIAN NIGHTS with footnotes.

The 19th Century had four great races: the search for the Northwest Passage, the race for the North Pole, the beginning of the race for the South Pole, and the search for the Nile. While these races did bring honor and glory to a handful of figures, they all brought tragedy to the same figures and others around them. To learn about the search for the sources of the White Nile, this well acted and written series is a great place to start.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

The BBC do not wish this series to be seen.

Author: morrowmmm from Los Angeles
4 April 2008

Quite a few of the best BBC films have been locked away. There is a possibility that, in the minds of a very politically correct and left leaning BBC upper management, the advertising of Empire and Africa is not a truth that should be allowed anymore. The standard of documentary's, and that of the news itself for which the BBC used to be renowned, has been lowered dramatically over the past 20 years. The BBC are ashamed of British involvement in Africa in the nineteenth Century and do their best to make certain that any programs which reflect otherwise are not available. It's a great pity. No quality anymore just proselytizing. The BBC is being systematically dumbed down to make certain it reflects a government view of the world.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Top quality series, filmed on location, of the explorations seeking the sources of the Nile.

Author: carayfield from United Kingdom
1 December 2007

Why on earth is this title not on DVD? I sometimes think the BBC keeps a lot of its films in a big barrel and only takes them from the top. The ones at the bottom never get a turn! If they do not intend to use it may I buy it?

It's hard to convey in words the feel of this series. It covers the stories of the explorations in quite a succinct but detailed way. It takes you into the continent with the main, and vivid, characters of the time, showing their journeys, intellectual arguments. It shows what they found there, from slave traders to powerful local kings. The main explorers include Livingstone (an explorer despite his missionary anti-slaver status), HM Stanley, R Burton, Speke, Grant, Mr and Mrs Baker travelling down the Nile through the Sud, and so on.

It is beautifully written, filmed and presented, covering a story that is hard to imagine could have a parallel today. It's difficult to understand the combination of enterprise, bravery, erudition and determination of those explorers. The more one gets into the subject the more interesting it becomes. I've read a lot about it since seeing the film and soon after lived in many of the regions covered.

The film captures a real essence of what it was. This film, of the highest standard,is surely what the BBC was meant to be about, leadership in quality. It's a shame it's not been made available but lies buried somewhere at the BBC. If you want to watch a very intelligent, top rate film about white man's early contacts with Africa and about the biggest mystery facing the first European exploration of the central areas of the continent, then this is a key film. I cannot think of a comparable film. Try to see it or request it! You won't be sorry.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful series

Author: msh5060 from Germany
7 December 2009

I loved that series when I saw it as a teenager. It's one of the few that I still remember vividly and keep praising among friends - who often haven't even heard of it. I was mesmerized by the characters: I adored Burton and marveled at his choice in wife, and (being a naive teenager at that time) was shocked by the character depictions of other prominent adventurers like Speke and Stanley. What a gripping view this mini-series gives of the discovery of the dark continent and of colonialism and imperialism. "Mountains of the Moon" is pale and superficial in comparison, and I was disappointed by the movie's quite different view of the Burton marriage. I so much enjoyed "The Search for the Nile", and I cannot understand why this fantastic series isn't available on DVD!

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