Sir Robert Beaumont is behind schedule on a railroad in Africa. Enlisting noted engineer John Henry Patterson to right the ship, Beaumont expects results. Everything seems great until the crew discovers the mutilated corpse of the project's foreman, seemingly killed by a lion. After several more attacks, Patterson calls in famed hunter Charles Remington, who has finally met his match in the bloodthirsty lions.Written by
In early drafts of the script, Remington was originally going to be an enigmatic figure but when Michael Douglas chose to play him, the character's role was expanded and was given a history. In William Goldman's book Which Lie Did I Tell?, the screenwriter argues that Douglas' decision ruined the mystery of the character, making him a wimp and a loser. See more »
The bridge pictured in the movie is a truss bridge. The actual Tsavo bridge was/is of the plate girder type. See more »
This is the most famous and true African adventure. Famous because what took place at Tsavo never happened before. Colonel John Patterson was there when it began. A fine Irish gentleman, a brilliant engineer. He was my friend. My name is Samuel. I was there. Remember this: even the most impossible parts of this story really happened.
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The beginning of the end credits is shown with a photograph of the real bridge as background. See more »
Safari Ya Bamba (Journey to Bamba)
Lyrics by George Acogny
Produced by George Acogny
Performed by The Worldbeaters with The Johannesburg Choir See more »
Fact, Fiction, and Somewhere Inbetween: A Good Flick
When I was in high school, my English teacher made us document all the differences we could spot between the Ronald Coleman movie version of "A Tale of Two Cities" and Dicken's novel. It's an exercise I find myself doing every time a movie comes out - especially when the movie is supposedly based on fact.
When I saw "The Ghost and the Darkness," I had already read "the Man-Eating Lions of Tsavo" and already seen the lions in the Field Museum. There really were two lions that killed well over 40 workers during the construction of a railroad in Africa in Tsavo, Kenya in the late 1800s. National Geographic also did an article about the aggressive Tsavo lions in 2002. I found the real story fascinating, and was really looking forward to the movie.
I understand that the normally maneless lions found in Tsavo don't look quite right for us ignorant viewers (could have just explained it with a one liner from a native, but oh well), so they used lions with manes.
I also realize that we as an audience today are too politically correct to cope with the way the white man treated natives back then, so the movie has been historically sanitized, with a few remarks sprinkled throughout on religious reformation from the doctor. I suppose we must continue to pretend certain behaviors in history didn't happen.
Yet another key change: I'm not clear why we needed another mighty hunter in the story. Patterson had the help of a district manager from time to time, but not another great white hunter. In Africa in that period, getting messages and arranging encounters wasn't easy - strangers of European race were apt to consider each other friends just because they were the same color upon encounter in that era - something the movie fails to get across - it's unlikely that another hunter could be reached easily. And certainly great star/hunter Val could carry a movie on his own.
Fortunately the character Michael Douglas plays does not detract from the movie, and there is that extra emphasis on the Ghost/Darkness nomenclature from the (again, additional characters) Masai. Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer did play off each other well, although neither seemed able to fully adopt Southern/Irish (? did we need those?) accents respectively.
I do think the hunting scenes in the movie captured well the constant effort to see something, staring into the darkness at nothing, that hunting at night can be like. Not to mention the cold sweat, stark fear, blinding pain, and sudden calm and desperation that a near death experience is.
Which is why, in spite of the factual inconsistencies, I gave the movie the rating I did. Worth the watch, if only for that. If you really want to know about the Lions of Tsavo, read the story by Patterson - it's pamphlet #7, published in 1925 from the Field Museum in Chicago.
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