During the 1900 Boxer Rebellion against foreigners in China, U.S. Marine Major Matt Lewis, aided by British Consul Sir Arthur Robertson, devises a strategy to keep the rebels at bay until an international military relief force arrives.
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Diplomats, soldiers and other representatives of a dozen nations fend off the siege of the International Compound in Peking during the 1900 Boxer Rebellion. The disparate interests unite for survival despite competing factions, overwhelming odds, delayed relief and tacit support of the Boxers by the Empress of China and her generals.Written by
Martin H. Booda <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When the Chinese army use a large cannon to bombard the legation compound , the little orphaned Chinese girl runs back in the temple she just fled where a large Buddha statue sits to save a little boy. As they run from the temple it blows up and a large rectangular stone comes crashing down behind them but bounces off the ground several times revealing it is a lightweight material not a massive stone. See more »
To receive a 'U' certificate in the UK (making the film suitable for all ages) significant cuts were made by the BBFC. These included the scene of the priest being drowned by the water-wheel, a shortening of the screaming sounds made by the soldier before his leg amputation, and a removal of all references by Lewis to local women being made available for soldiers. To retain the same certificate all video releases also featured the same cut print. The 2014 DVD features the uncut version and is upgraded to a PG. See more »
A top-notch cast recreates a portion of the so-called "Boxer Rebellion" at the turn of the twentieth century, when Chinese reactionaries (a group called "Boxers"), opposing westernization, tried to drive western traders, missionaries and diplomats out of China.
Though "55 Days at Peking" is extremely simplified, since its history is probably unknown to most movie buffs, there is a lot of exposition, which means a lot of talk. The best epics (such as "Lawrence of Arabia") allow the images to do most of the talking. But the necessity of setting up the dilemma of western diplomats trapped in their compound by the hoards of reactionary Boxers requires a history lesson.
It also tends to dilute the tension. Unlike a similar film (and slightly later) film "Zulu", "55 Days at Peking" tends toward the "Grand Hotel" or "Ship of Fools" style of movie-making that would be pursued in the '70s disaster flicks, making it more study of soap-opera characters than about the tension of events. Though most viewers will not know the fictional characters, there are far too many (characters and fictional characters), which diffuses the interest in them too far (does anyone feel much sympathy for diplomats, in any case?), even though Heston, Niven, Harry Andrews and the rest act their hearts out. And there are many cloying sub-plots.
While it's the foundation of a pretty good (if superficial) story on the Boxer Rebellion, it never quite achieves its promise. It's too bad a movie can't be made about the Rebellion in these highly charged times in the early twenty-first century, when moviemakers seem to think all westernization is wrong.
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