When 15 year old Stas Tarkowski and 9 year old Nel Rawlinson are kidnapped by rebels fighting for the great Arab leader - the Mahdi - their fathers desperately organize a search party. But the Mahdi uprising is spreading rapidly across North Africa and the chances of finding the children seem remote. Forced to rely on themselves, Stas and Nel, together with two young African slaves, Mea and Kali, escape their captors and head south across desolate country. In their search for a way home, they must battle wild animals, thunderstorms, hunger and malaria. Their journey to freedom brings them into contact with some colorful adult mentors: Kaliopoli, a displaced Greek, guides Stas through a critical encounter with the great Mahdi and Linde, an eccentric Polish cartographer, himself lost in the jungle, offers hope when Nel comes down with malaria and all hope for her survival seems lost. Written by
After reading the book and being quite riveted to it, I was quite looking forward to the new film version. I was unfortunately disappointed. I felt I was watching a very rushed version, and sadly many of the important issues had been changed, I believe, for commercial and "21st century" reasons. Gavin Hood, it would seem, tried to get through the filming as quick as possible. I do believe a Polish director should have stood at the helm of this project, although I understand that a director on site had to be found asap once the initial Polish director fell ill. What does stand out are the photography and the music, as well as the young actress playing Nell. Unfortunately, Fidusiewicz as Stas doesn't pull it off. All well and good for children, although it strays from the book and will probably confuse them with the "facts". Doesn't match up to the original film.
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