Rhodes (TV Mini-Series 1996– ) Poster

(1996– )

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In The Tradition of Great Epics
Gooper4 October 2007
'Rhodes' takes its place alongside 'The Last Place on Earth' and 'The Jewel in the Crown' as one of the very best British-made series sagas. It has everything: masterful performances (it's Martin Shaw's show, of course, but everyone shines), a sweeping, informative and intelligent script, a magnificent score - reminiscent of John Barry, superb locations, and a whale of a story, a true story.

The character of Cecil Rhodes is thoroughly and fulfillingly fleshed out. He is scarcely admirable, but he commands our attention for sheer audaciousness and dramatic power. The exploitation and double-crossing of the native peoples is portrayed with accuracy and grim detail, with many parallels to the American West. Rhodes was an opportunist and an empire builder in the extreme, who stopped at nothing to achieve his goals. As an epic character study, this drama really delivers as only the Brits can.

Finally, a common complaint: no DVD version exists as if yet. If more viewers discovered this series, it would quickly be known as a classic.
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Rhodes, a man to hate but a portrait to be loved
j-vander-veen9 February 2005
I have known Rhodes to be the father of oppression in southern Africa. A man of his time maybe, but one who did so much to create so much suffering, that I thought it impossible, that a biopic of him would fascinate me, but it did. Here we see a man driven by ambition, by disgust over his fellow humans, white or black. He is portrayed not as a person with whom you would like to identify yourself, but whose inner workings and motivations you want to know. This is the true greatness of the script. It entices you to involve yourself with a man, who stands wholeheartedly for a thoroughly black page in history.

coupled to that it is a superb costume drama, with well developed secondary characters of whom I would like to mention by name: Ken Stott as Barney Barnato

To sum it up. This film will not make you hate Rhodes any less than you did before, but it does help you to understand the fascination he created in his own day.
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titan885614 January 2019
Again. why isn't this out on DVD yet? I saw this when it aired on Masterpiece in Jan. 1998, and I've never forgotten it, but obviously Masterpiece Theater has. It is British History, with all the dirt, blood, injustice that went along with it. An "incredible" portrayal of how it was, very well produced, acted, and musically scored. Is Masterpiece afraid to put this out there again, with it's "undercurrent" of homosexuality, and colonialism at all cost, or do they just prefer not to remember a piece of their history they would just as soon forget.
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Rhodes: An excellent series!
grewardoug30 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I really enjoyed this series and found it historically accurate and very realistic. It is vital part of our Southern African history. It is a magnificent adventure story about a man who started from humble beginnings and became a colossus who changed the course of history.

All the University students in South Africa should be made to watch this series and learn something about the man they love to hate. Many people died during Rhodes' invasion and subjugation of Mashonaland and Matabeleland. A lot more would have died at the hands of Lobengula's impis if Rhodes had not invaded.

Those modern PC left wingers who try to criticize him show their ignorance. If they could achieve even 0.1% of what Rhodes achieved they could be proud. His methods may well be criticized but overall he did a lot more good than harm. Viva Rhodes Viva!
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An absolute classic and legendary performance by Martin Shaw
paul-191-57188621 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of my all-time favourite biographical TV dramas, charting the life of Cecil Rhodes, a man who had almost faded into history until this drama brought him to the public attention.

Rhodes was a major figure in the British Empire in Africa - he was the man who stole a country and then much of the continent! That, along with his diamond mining monopoly ending up making him the richest and most powerful man on earth who's business exploits in Africa are the stuff of legends and well covered by this drama series.

Rhodes was a very complex character, as this drama shows. It's not very flattering as a drama, and does portray him as somewhat of a villain and ruthless racist tyrant, but he also had good sides to him. He strongly believed in giving black Africans education, equality and the right to vote, when this was deeply unpopular with the Dutch Africans and the British Empire.

Despite his immense wealth, he also wore the same clothes and led rather a modest existence. He lived in rather squalid and humble conditions and had many strange habits, many of which are not covered in the drama but if you want to find out more, you can read his unofficial autobiography by his last secretary freely online. It's implied he was homosexual, because he always was in the company of young men and didn't marry or have relations with women. History doesn't have any clear evidence he was homosexual and his closest aides have always denied it.

One thing not covered in the drama, is that Rhodes influence and power continued long after his death, not just in African politics, but also in the UK and beyond. He left an incredible will, with his entire wealth and estate left to the advancement of the British Empire and its expansion. In his will, he predicted that the British Empire would cover all of the earth eventually, with all the European Powers joining it, and even the US re-joining creating a power so great that no future wars would ever be possible! He advocated the creation of a secret society and a Rhodes Scholarship for educating the brightest and best people to become future leaders in the Empire who's aim it was to bring civilisation, peace, stability and prosperity to all the world. One student who received a Rhodes Scholarship (which is still going today) is none other than President Clinton.

Back to the drama.. my favourite scene is where he faces off Lord Chamberlain and the committee inquiry which had him answer to serious crimes of starting a war on a foreign power, without consulting the British government and going against their express orders. He just basically said, he had bought the land, so had the right to do anything there, and had a country to run so didn't have time to stay, would answer their questions another time and walked out! When with the Royal Charter being revoked, he simply said he would break off the African colonies from the Empire and make them independent AND defend them fully with all his resources and private army (which did eventually happen, but almost half a century later, after his death!).
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