Mountains of the Moon (1990)

R  |   |  Adventure, Drama, History  |  23 February 1990 (USA)
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The story of Captain Richard Francis Burton's and Lt. John Hanning Speke's expedition to find the source of the Nile river in the name of Queen Victoria's British Empire. The film tells the... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Larry Oliphant
Isabel Arundell (Mrs Burton as from 1861)
John Savident ...
Lord Murchison
James Villiers ...
Lord Oliphant
Lord Houghton
Richard Caldicot ...
Lord Russell
Ben Amir


The story of Captain Richard Francis Burton's and Lt. John Hanning Speke's expedition to find the source of the Nile river in the name of Queen Victoria's British Empire. The film tells the story of their meeting, their friendship emerging amidst hardship, and then dissolving after their journey. Written by Greg Bole <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 February 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aux sources du Nil  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$4,011,793 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Two actors from the movie, Roger Rees and Omar Sharif, died on the exact same day: 10 July, 2015. See more »


Although Larry Oliphant is portrayed as a homosexual, by all accounts he was in real life heterosexual: the filmmakers changed his sexual orientation to create a more dramatic reason for Speke's betrayal of Burton after all they had gone through together. See more »


Arab chief in Cairo: In this wilderness you will find only Allah's terrible whimsy.
See more »


Referenced in Serial Mom (1994) See more »


Wagogo Marriage Ritual
Recorded by David Fanshawe
From the album "Africa - Ceremonial & Folk Music"
See more »

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User Reviews

Fascinating, to say the least
20 March 2007 | by (Romania) – See all my reviews

I hardly have the words to describe what I think and how I feel about this movie. Except that I find it stunning. The wild scenery where the two characters' friendship is shaped was splendid, absolutely breathtaking. It was so interesting and moving to watch Richard and John evolve around each other and get so close and united when confronted with life-and-death situations in the wilderness. The story revolves around great ideals and principles in an age of innocence, when human bonding, friendship, love, still had that touch of solemnity, honor and oath. It was very sad to see how John's deep feelings for his best, truest friend degenerate under the manipulation of a man with no scruples. The ending was heartbreaking and liberating, at the same time. The highpoint of the film was, in my opinion, when Richard is shown the unfinished bust of his late friend. The loving, nostalgic look and smile he displays while adjusting John's cheek-bones sums up beautifully the entire story of their friendship, and also suggests that John will always be in Richard's heart, as he knew him for real in Africa, when they went through so many things together, despite his naive, reckless betrayal and despite the games of interests that followed when returning to the civilized world. Truly excellent, I highly recommend it to everyone. It works magic for the soul.

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