In the Sudan, in 1884 to 1885, Egyptian forces led by British General Charles "Chinese" Gordon (Charlton Heston) defend Khartoum against an invading Muslim Army led by a religious fanatic, Mohammed Ahmed el Mahdi (Sir Laurence Olivier).

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Robert Ardrey
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Charlton Heston ... General Charles 'Chinese' Gordon
Laurence Olivier ... The Mahdi
Richard Johnson ... Colonel J.D.H. Stewart
Ralph Richardson ... William Gladstone
Alexander Knox ... Sir Evelyn Baring
Johnny Sekka ... Khaleel
Michael Hordern ... Lord Granville
Zia Mohyeddin ... Zobeir Pasha
Marne Maitland ... Sheikh Osman
Nigel Green ... General Wolseley
Hugh Williams ... Lord Hartington
Ralph Michael Ralph Michael ... Sir Charles Dilke
Douglas Wilmer ... Khalifa Abdullah
Edward Underdown Edward Underdown ... Colonel William Hicks
Peter Arne ... Major Kitchener
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Storyline

After an Egyptian Army, commanded by British officers, is destroyed in a battle in the Sudan in the 1880s, the British government is in a quandary. It does not want to commit a British military force to a foreign war, but they have a commitment to protect the Egyptians in Khartoum. They decide to ask General Charles "Chinese" Gordon (Charlton Heston), something of a folk hero in the Sudan, as he had cleared the area of the slave trade, to arrange for the evacuation. Gordon agrees, but also decides to defend the city against the forces of Mohammed Ahmed el Mahdi (Sir Laurence Olivier), "The Expected One", and tries to force the British to commit troops. Written by garykmcd

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Taglines:

THEY SAY THE NILE STILL RUNS RED FROM THE BATTLE OF KHARTOUM! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie was criticized for neglecting to mention the many very good reasons why Prime Minister William Gladstone was reluctant to send an army into the Sudan. See more »

Goofs

Gordon's log is labeled "Journal of events Kartoum". See more »

Quotes

Gen. Charles 'Chinese' Gordon: [patting his camel in goodbye] So we ride beneath no more desert stars, then. Ah, all things must end.
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Alternate Versions

The cinema version was uncut but UK video and DVD releases were cut by 29 secs by the BBFC to edit footage of dangerous horsefalls. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Biography: Charlton Heston: For All Seasons (1995) See more »

User Reviews

 
An epic entertainment!
23 July 2000 | by Nazi_Fighter_DavidSee all my reviews

Heston essays one of his best roles as Charles "Chinese" Gordon, the patriot who thrives on challenge... Gordon becomes a national hero for his exploits in China and his ill-fated defense of Khartoum...

Gordon is a Christian with the Bible constantly under his arm... A national hero who abolished slavery in China... An honest man revered by the British, as well as by the foreigners... A martyr-warrior who ever truly loves the Sudan and cannot, under 'his' God, leave it to the misery and the sickness of which he once cured it...

Gladstone ((Ralph Richardson) decides not to send troops to the trouble area... Instead he will send General Gordon... Gladstone realizes if Gordon is sent to Khartoum and fails to prevent a massacre, it is he who will be blamed; not the Briish government... For heroes are supposed to perform miracles...

En route to Khartoum, Gordon discovers that most of Britain's allies and friends of his former exploits now support the mystic Mahdi... But when Gordon with Col. Stewart (Richard Johnson) finally reach Khartoum, the people give him a warm welcome... They feel their problems must soon be over now that Gordon Pasha has arrived...

Things, however, do not go as planned... Khartoum runs out of food... The Mahdi's men infiltrate the city... And Gordon seek a plan...

Lawrence Olivier is superb as the fanatical Arab leader, Muhammed Ahmed Al Mahdi, the Expected-One... His softly glowing black eyes never blink... His measured voice spreads holy terrors: "I have been instructed by the Lord Mohammed, Peace be upon Him, to worship in the Khartoum mosque. Therefore I must take Khartoum by the sword."

With outstanding color photography, exquisite sets and costumes, "Khartoum" has great moments:

  • The bloody and brutal massacre of an entire army in a burning desert...


  • The Gordon/Mahdi meeting... The only non-historic element of the film which, in fact, never took place - contributes enormously to the dramatic effect of the motion picture.


  • The raid on the Mahdi's own supplies...


  • The exodus of all foreigners and Europeans out of the city...


With an Oscar-Nominated script mounted on a grand scale, "Khartoum" is an epic entertainment, a fine and powerful motion picture...

The exploits, the single-handed capacity Gordon Pasha displayed again and again to control large groups of people quite unarmed and alone, is almost magical; quite scary, in fact...


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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 June 1966 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Khartoum See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.76 : 1
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