Sir Robert Beaumont is behind schedule on a railroad in Africa. Enlisting noted engineer John Henry Patterson to right the ship, Beaumont expects results. Everything seems great until the crew discovers the mutilated corpse of the project's foreman, seemingly killed by a lion. After several more attacks, Patterson calls in famed hunter Charles Remington, who has finally met his match in the bloodthirsty lions. Written by
Director Stephen Hopkins said about filming: "We had snake bites, scorpion bites, tick bite fever, people getting hit by lightning, floods, torrential rains and lightning storms, hippos chasing people through the water, cars getting swept into the water and several deaths of crew members including two drownings... Val came to the set under the worst conditions imaginable he was completely exhausted from doing The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) he was dealing with the unfavorable publicity from that set, he was going through a divorce he barely had time to get his teeth into this role before we started filming, and he is in nearly every scene in this movie but I worked him 6 or 7 days a week for 4 months under really adverse conditions and he really came through, he had a passion for this film." 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 »
This is the most famous and true African adventure.
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The beginning of the end credits is shown with a photograph of the real bridge as background. See more »
"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.
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