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Customer Review

19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heston, brilliant as usual, complete with epic battle scenes, 7 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Khartoum [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Khartoum, the Sudan in late Victorian times. An Islamic leader, the 'Mehdi' ( Olivier )has started a rising of the native people. The death of a British general during an Egyptian-sponsered campaign to crush the uprising drags the British government into the war. General Gordon ( Heston )goes to Khartoum with the intention of saving the city from the Mehdi. However, he has no troops, only the local garrison. The arrival of the Mehdi's army creates great panic and fear in Khartoum. Everyone knows that the city will fall unless a British army is sent. The protective moat around the city is slowly drying up as the Nile falls. Will the British army arrive in time? The Mehdi attacks, ten thousand warriors descend on the city. Despite Gordon's efforts, the garrison disintegrates in the face on this babaric onslaught. Khartoum falls and Gordon's head is paraded around the city that night, atop a giant pole. Tragically, a British relief force was only two days away.
This film was better than your average British war epic. Heston brings to the film a colder, more realistic portrayal of General Gordon than say a British actor could. He stops Gordon from being seen as a stereotypical, sideburns and moustached Victorian gentleman type. Olivier is somewhat less convincing as the Mehdi. Why apply face paint to him when surely, 'black' actors could have been found. It is simply too mind-boggling to get your head around, a coloured Laurence Olivier!!! The film benefits from the dramatic backdrop of the Nile basin. Ancient Egyptian monuments add a sense of sadness and tragedy to the story. One scene depicts soldiers passing by figures carved out of stone and you sense that these stone gods are aware of the fate that awaits Khartoum and her defenders. When you watch the film, you find yourself hoping that the relief force just hurries up that little bit, in order to save the city. The sense of tension and desperation in Khartoum is easily felt and leaves you infuriated by the casual stance the British generals adopt towards the inhabitants. The battle scenes are top notch and boast a cast of thousands, helping make the film a highly enjoyable epic.
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