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Mountains of the Moon (1990)

The story of Captain Richard Francis Burton 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 »



(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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1 win. See more awards »



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


The story of Captain Richard Francis Burton 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


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?


The actual real-life Mountains of the Moon are shown in David Attenborough's 2013 natural wildlife television documentary series Africa (2013). See more »


Sir Richard Francis Burton is depicted as an Irishman in the film, however he was born in England and would have spoken with an English accent. See more »


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


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


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

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User Reviews

A Great, True Tale of Adventure
8 November 1999 | by (Binghamton, NY) – See all my reviews

Capt. Sir Richard Francis Burton and his mate, John Hanning Speke's travels to find the source of the Nile, and travails to claim the rigth to say that either of these two gentlemen adventurers discovered the source of the Nile makes for one of the biggest and best EPIC adventure films in recent memory. The performances from Patrick Bergin (better known for PATRIOT GAMES and SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY), and Ian Glen (last seen on Broadway opposite Nicole Kidman in THE BLUE ROOM), turn in career-making perfomances as the two polar opposites who race to find the glory at the end of finding the source of the Nile. Bob Rafaelson, the man behind the camera, does not feel the need to spare the audience of any graphic details from the expeditions (including spearings, native sex, castrations, and ugly political maneuvering), and in the end, this is the best way to go since sparing us would have cheated us. Nor does he feel the need to spare us from any ticks in the characters themselves (Burton's blatant drinking and womanizing) and their questions (Is Speke gay? Who does end up with the bigger ego?). But the film's greatest achievements are:

1 - It makes you understand why these two gentlemen lived the lives they lived.

2- It makes you want to read more about them.

3- It really does make you feel like you too, got to go to see the Mountains of The Moon.

30 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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