DIRECTOR: Shekhar Kapur


May Contain Spoilers!

Will we be adding this to our collection?  NO

I first saw this sweeping epic adaptation of A.E.W. Mason’s 1902 novel of the same name back in 2004, and was expecting something modern and yet classical. What I saw and didn’t like much was an old school film done in an old school manner. But on reflection and second viewing, there is more to look at here but not necessarily much  more to enjoy.

The tone is dingey, whether it be the rain-sodden Britain or the dirty and horrendous looking Sudan, which is only saved by the obligatory wide shots of the rolling desert dunes. The idea seems to be to add some level of realism to proceedings, in a similar manner as when he made El1zabeth in 1998, but we just end up with a dour looking epic, swamped by depressing imagery and feeling.

The story, or at least this version of it, it simple and under cooked I think, with little but a contrived and skeletal plot, offering no significant insight into the times or the characters and the tone leaves the actors with no real room to act outside the depressing boundaries that have already being laid before them.

The casting was also at fault here, not least that of Kate Hudson, who besides being able to put on an overbearing British accent, is nothing more than a caricature of an English lady of the times. The ending is also a little confusing but seems to be wrapped up neatly whilst leaving several questions unanswered, but quiet frankly, nobody really cares by that point.

It is sweeping at time and some of the cinematography is stunning, though slow-motion is ridiculously overused, whilst the rest of the film feels derivative, predictable and laboured, but there are worse films out there and this will pass the time quite adequately.

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