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Beryl Markham: A Shadow on the Sun (1988)

The singular life of Beryl Markham - renowned aviatrix, author and adventurer - is depicted. Raised by her father in colonial East Africa, Beryl hunted with the Maasai, bred thoroughbred ... See full summary »


Tony Richardson


James Fox (article), Allan Scott
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Stefanie Powers ... Beryl Clutterbuck Markham
Claire Bloom ... Lady Delamere
Peter Bowles ... Lord Jack Carberry
Brian Cox ... Jock Purves
Niamh Cusack ... Clara Clutterbuck
Trevor Eve ... Denys Finch Hatton
Frederic Forrest ... Raoul Schumacher
James Fox ... Mansfield Markham
Rupert Frazer Rupert Frazer ... Duke of Gloucester
Joseph Mydell ... Kibii
Sverre Anker Ousdal ... Baron Bror Blixen-Finecke
Nicola Pagett ... Emma Orchardson
John Rubinstein ... Arthur Kane
Jack Thompson ... Tom Campbell Black
Frederick Treves ... Lord Delamere


The singular life of Beryl Markham - renowned aviatrix, author and adventurer - is depicted. Raised by her father in colonial East Africa, Beryl hunted with the Maasai, bred thoroughbred horses, romanced Denys Finch-Hatton and defied constraining social rules. Based upon her own memoir 'West With the Night'. Written by Dawn M. Barclift

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis









Release Date:

15 May 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Afrika, mein Leben See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Beryl Markham, as an older child, was played by Nairobi Academy student Alix Dayken. Her mother Anne - a teacher at Nairobi Academy - served as her stunt double in horseback scenes. Alix grew up to be an educator as well. See more »


Finch-Hatton's note refers to a quick overnight trip to Voi. In fact, he stopped by Voi enroute from Mombasa where, among other things, he had purchased a large sack of oranges. While visiting with the local administrator, he offered to take his wife up for a short flight but she had a bad feeling about it and refused. In the film, Tom expressed doubts about Finch-Hatton's worthiness as a pilot, his careless style of flying and of issues of stalling, as well as his disregard of paperwork. It is presumed that his crash was due to a lack of regard for proper maintenance, causing a mechanical failure. See more »

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User Reviews

A good miniseries, all things considered. I'm glad this exists.

This film has a place in my heart, similar to Out of Africa (1985), the success of which led to the greenlighting of the Markham film. Both were filmed when I was living in Karengata, only a thousand feet from the door through which the giraffe appeared. The older version of Markham as a chile was played by one of my students at the Nairobi Academy, whose mother was a fellow teacher there.

Stefanie Powers was a frequent visitor to Kenya, along with her boyfriend William Holden, who passed away in 1981; both of whom being members of the Mount Kenya Safari Club. Shadow on the Sun was her project and she did a good job of it. Frankly, she comes off as being too sweet a person in this role, as Markham was very much a member of the hedonistic crowd of the Happy Valley days. She was bold and not afraid to break the rules, which led to her successes later on.

Unfortunately, this film is only available (for a ridiculous price) as a two-tape video release. A low quality version is availabe on YouTube. It would be nice if it were available on DVD.

In the film, Markham mentioned how much had changed up through the 1950's. It had changed another thirty years until my time and another thirty years again. Satellite view renders the place almost unrecognizable: the open fields of grass and scrub divided by sleepy lanes barely wide enough for two vehicles are a thing of the past. The suburbs have grown far beyond the giraffe sanctuary and the dirt roads where late at night one might encounter a giant anteater wandering by are now paved and filled with houses. Plus things are far too expensive now for ordinary working people to live there.

This is mentioned because of the nostalgic element of the film and because of the statement that once you have fallen in love with Africa, you never get over it. I encourage other viewers to view Out of Africa and Flame Trees, and White Mischief, and all the others, and to read whatever books you can find, but I warn you that if you do, and you fall in love with Africa as I did, it will stay with you for the rest of your life.

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