The Ghost and the Darkness
The Ghost and the Darkness is a 1996 Oscar-winning thriller starring Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer set in Africa at the end of the 19th century. It was directed by Stephen Hopkins and based on a screenplay by Academy Award-winner William Goldman. The film tells a fictionalised account about the two lions that attacked and killed workers at Tsavo, Kenya during the building of the African Uganda-Mombasa Railway in 1898. Sir Robert Beaumont (Tom Wilkinson), the primary financier of a railroad project in Tsavo, Kenya, is furious because the project is running behind schedule. He seeks out the expertise of John Henry Patterson (Kilmer), a military engineer, to get the project back on track. Patterson travels by train to Tsavo, where he meets supervisors Angus Starling and Samuel, a native African (and the film's narrator), and the doctor, David Hawthorne. Hawthorne tells Patterson of a recent lion attack. That night, Patterson kills an approaching lion with one shot, earning the respect of the workmen. The project gets back on schedule. However, not long afterwards Mahina, the construction foreman, is dragged from his tent in the middle of the night. His half-eaten body is found the
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This is a really fascinating movie. There are some graphic images with the lions hunting humans and with lion killings. It's not for kids. But ages 15+ should be able to handle it. The story is engaging and it's worth a watch.January 16th, 2013 · Details
What "Jaws" did for sharks, "The Ghost and the Darkness" may do for lions. Of course, there's a major difference between these two films. Whereas "Jaws" was based on Peter Benchley's highly fictional novel, "The Ghost and the Darkness" is adapted from John Patterson's "The Man Eaters of Tsavo," the true story about the hunt for two lions who killed more than 100 railworkers in Africa at the turn of the century. Though the tale was filmed once before in 1952 - as the sensationalistic "Bwana Devil," the first feature-length 3-D movie - this time director Ste-phen Hopkins and screenwriter William Goldman attempt to add a little history and authenticity to the proceedings. Val Kilmer plays Patterson, an Irish engineer sent to design a bridge over the Tsavo River in eastern Africa. When, with a single shot, he slays one lion that has been menacing the workers, Patterson becomes a hero to the crew of Africans, Hindus and Muslims. However, the whole rail project is brought to a halt when an especially bold and vicious pair of lions begins attacking the railworkers' camp. Foiling a clever series of traps designed by Patterson, the lions kill and eat 30 of the men. Eventually, the rail company sends in Charles Remington (Michael Douglas), a noted wild game hunter who sets some of his traps to catch the feline killers. But the lions escape and terrorize the camp's hospital, which leads to an en masse exodus of the remaining railworkers, who believe the beasts are actually vengeful spirits named "the Ghost" and "the Darkness." In desparation, Patterson and Remington track the pair back to their lair, where they discover the bones of several dozen men and find they may have met their match. As adapted by Goldman, an experienced writer responsible for "The Princess Bride" and the script for "All the President's Men," "The Ghost and the Darkness," is, for the most part, a thrilling adventure and a decent period piece. Excepting a needless (and preposterous) dream sequence, he sticks strictly to the story, which is horrifying enough without being sensationalized. And Hopkins ("Blown Away") does a good job of sustaining the suspense, although he does resort to using the cliched "monster's point-of view" used so prevalently since "Jaws" came out. Things are also helped out immeasurably by the beautiful scenery and photography - most of the film was shot on location - as well as winning performances from both Kilmer and Douglas. While Douglas' turn as an enigmatic and legendary hunter, a composite character created by Goldman, quickly steals scenes, Kilmer - using a very subtle Irish accent - carries the film for the first hour with his quiet determination. Also, Brian McCardie and John Kani, who play Patterson's religious aide and his native guide, respectively, are effective in their supporting roles. Unfortunately, some of the attack scenes are shown so graphically that the film is too terrifying for children, especially small children. Considering the violence and gore, as well as some brief profanity, "The Ghost and The Darkness" easily earns its R rating.October 11th, 1996 · Details