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Mountains of the Moon (1990)

R  |   |  Adventure, Drama, History  |  23 February 1990 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 2,609 users  
Reviews: 35 user | 17 critic

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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(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Mountains of the Moon (1990)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Larry Oliphant
...
Isabel Arundell (Mrs Burton as from 1861)
John Savident ...
Lord Murchison
James Villiers ...
Lord Oliphant
...
Edward
...
Lord Houghton
...
Mabruki
...
...
William
Richard Caldicot ...
Lord Russell
...
Herne
Garry Cooper ...
Stroyan
...
Ben Amir
Edit

Storyline

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 <bole@life.bio.sunysb.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 February 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aux sources du Nil  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$4,011,793 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Rankcolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is not only based on the historical biographical "Burton and Speke" novel by William Harrison, but as outlined in the opening credits, also on the original journals of the explorers John Hanning Speke and Richard Francis Burton. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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

Connections

Spoofed in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Kawamba Dance
Recorded by David Fanshawe
From the album "Africa - Witchcraft & Ritual Music"
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sophisticated epic story telling with depth and intelligence
12 June 2005 | by See all my reviews

It was my good fortune to see MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON several times in its original theatrical release at New York's Ziegfeld Theatre in 1990. An article in the New York Times months earlier had alerted me to the possibility that this was my kind of movie. That easily proved to be true. MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON promptly became a great personal favorite, leading me to read two biographies of Sir Richard Francis Burton.

When MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON was originally released on DVD on the Pioneer label I bought it immediately. Once again, I was lucky because the Pioneer release was in the original 1:85 theatrical ratio. The Pioneer release was withdrawn and this title was subsequently reissued on DVD on a different label. Regrettably it was in a full screen pan and scan version that spoiled this film's excellent visual compositions.

MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON is superbly directed by Bob Rafelson. Although known as an excellent director of contemporary material, there is nothing in his previous body of work to prepare you for Rafelson's outstanding achievement in a period epic. It is uniformly well acted and technical credits are on a very high level. This overlooked classic deserves to be restored to it correct technical specifications on DVD. Hopefully, Bob Rafelson could do a commentary. Criterion Collection, are you listening?

If you have not had the great good fortune to see this film theatrically, then let me urge you to seek out the Pioneer DVD release in the correct aspect ratio. MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON is practically the only film that I would seriously compare to LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. Each one is what you might call a thinking man's epic. Both of them succeed in asking provocative questions, without succumbing to giving the audience banal answers.

Thematically, MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON is one of the relatively few films that seriously deals with male friendship gone wrong. Although the theme of toxic friendships has been well explored in so-called women's films, it's comparatively rare in films dealing with men. In order to accomplish this aim, MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON takes some license with the facts. However, it does so in order to serve a larger measure of the truth.

MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON never resorts to cliché. This is a film for people who have a taste for sophisticated epic story telling and intimate character study. It has an unflinching eye for the best and the worst in it's characters. Layer by layer, Burton and Speke are revealed to be all too human.

Allow me to recommend MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON to you without reservation.


25 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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