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The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)

R  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Horror  |  11 October 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 43,530 users  
Reviews: 149 user | 59 critic

A bridge engineer and an experienced old hunter begin a hunt for two lions after they start attacking local construction workers.



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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Cele ...
Kurt Egelhof ...
Indian Victim
Satchu Annamalai ...
Worker #1
Teddy Reddy ...
Worker #2
Raheem Khan ...
Worker #3 (as Rakeem Khan)
Jack Devnarain ...
Nervous Sikh Orderly
Glen Gabela ...
Orderly #1


Set in 1898, this movie is based on the true story of two lions in Africa that killed 35 people over a nine month period, while a bridge engineer and an experienced old hunter tried to kill them. Written by Adil Siddiqi <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

lion | bridge | hunter | engineer | railway | See All (71) »


Control Your Fear See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence and gore involving animal attacks | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

11 October 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Geist und die Dunkelheit  »

Box Office


$55,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$9,215,063 (USA) (11 October 1996)


$38,553,833 (USA) (7 February 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Director Stephen Hopkins wanted his longtime collaborator Peter Levy to be the film's cinematographer, but he was overruled by the studio, who wanted to hire Vilmos Zsigmond. See more »


Instantly recognizable polio vaccine scars are visible on the arms of several extras playing native Africans throughout the film. The vaccine wasn't announced until 12 April 1955. See more »


[first lines]
Samuel: This is the most famous and true African adventure.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The beginning of the end credits is shown with a photograph of the real bridge as background. See more »


Version of Killers of Kilimanjaro (1959) See more »


Prepare for Battle
Written by Jerry Goldsmith
Performed by Jerry Goldsmith
See more »

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User Reviews

A tense, intense, and spooky hunt
3 October 1998 | by (Laurel MD) – See all my reviews

"The Ghost and the Darkness" is a marvellous movie, in the literal sense: the lions come out of the long grass in the daylight or the groundfog in the darkness like the devils they are thought to be. No true motives are ascribed to them, as how could they be?, and that actually serves to make them more demonically terrifying. But whether they are the devils come to prevent Val Kilmer's Patterson from building his bridge, or merely (!) animals hunting for the pleasure of it, they provide more suspense, more terror, and more death than most high-tech cgi aliens. Michael Douglas's Remington, dispossessed of home and family in the American civil war, is an interesting character, but it's Kilmer's British bridge-builder in a time where engineers had to know how to shoot tigers and manage Hindu-Muslim conflicts fully as much as how to put up their structures, who is the focus of the film, and rightly so. Kilmer's performance is quiet, almost understated, but one of the best I've seen him give; he's fully convincing, especially as he fights the belief that the lions are, in fact, out to get him personally. "They are just lions," he says halfway through the movie, and you can hear how much he wants to believe it. John Kani also gives a good performance, contained mostly in small moments that are so true they almost hurt. The cinematography is beautiful, especially the of the lion attacks and their passages through the grass. Again, no cgi effects could convey so much beauty and lurking menace. This movie is beautiful, intense, and dramatic; I highly recommend it.

50 of 66 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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