Action / Adventure / Drama / History / War

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 68%
IMDb Rating 6.9 10 5732


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March 28, 2015 at 06:41 PM



Charlton Heston as Gen. Charles 'Chinese' Gordon
Laurence Olivier as The Mahdi
Nigel Green as Gen. Wolseley
Ralph Richardson as William Gladstone
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
926.26 MB
23.976 fps
2hr 14 min
P/S 2 / 5
1.95 GB
23.976 fps
2hr 14 min
P/S 3 / 5

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Leofwine_draca 6 / 10

Endearingly old-fashioned

KHARTOUM is a lavish and endearingly old-fashioned retelling of the last days of the famous General Gordon as he held Khartoum against the overwhelming hordes of the Mahdi, a religious fanatic who led an uprising in 19th century Sudan. The film has much of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA about it, with sweeping desert vistas and sand-swept derring-do. It's no classic - there's not quite enough depth to it for that - but fans of historical adventure yarns will find themselves delighted by the film's refreshing unswavering attitude and Charlton Heston's well-judged turn as Gordon, playing him as a man of principle. The film is full of British actors in brown face make up, with Laurence Olivier the sinister Mahdi and a supporting cast replete with familiar faces (including the inevitable foreign-looking likes of George Pastell, Roger Delgado, and Marne Maitland). Richard Johnson and Ralph Richardson supply the requisite stiff upper lips, and if it all feels a little slow and sedate at times, it soon builds to a rousing climax which could well be considered the British Alamo.

Reviewed by JohnHowardReid 7 / 10

Fascinating, but saddled with one major drawback!

Copyright 10 June 1966 by Julian Blaustein Productions. New York opening at the Warner Cinerama: 13 July 1966. U.S. release: 10 June 1966. U.K. general release: 13 August 1968. Australian release: 10 March 1967. Sydney opening at the Plaza in 70mm Cinerama. Also available in 70mm Ultra-Panavision and 35mm Panavision. Running times: 136 minutes (Australia), 130 minutes (U.K.), 128 minutes (U.S.A.).

SYNOPSIS: After a British Colonel and his 10,000 untrained Egyptian troops are massacred by a fanatical Arab religious leader, the Mahdi, in the Sudan in 1883, General Charles Gordon, a national hero who has already spent six years in the country, is sent by Gladstone to evacuate the 13,000 troops in Khartoum and the civilians. But he is warned that his mission is unofficial so the government will not promise to back him up. Gordon is in fact in a hopeless situation.

NOTES: Robert Ardrey was nominated for a 1966 Academy Award for Best Story and Screenplay (written directly for the screen), losing to "A Man and a Woman".

Number 3 at U.K. road show box-offices for 1966.

COMMENT: Great spectacle, great cast, fine historical research, meticulously directed and often (especially in its action scenes) excitingly presented. Technical credits are all A-1. Australians were fortunate that the Prologue sequence, directed by Eliot Elisofon, featuring the treasures of the Nile Valley, was retained for local release, whereas this fascinating sequence was cut from many British and American prints.

Only one drawback in fact. But an important one: Olivier, who seems not only out of place, but way out of step with the rest of the cast.

Reviewed by Hunter Lanier 5 / 10

Fails in its silences

"Khartoum" plays all of the right notes, but so does an electronic keyboard. It's not about the right notes, it's about the space between the notes; that's where the heart and soul of anything lies. As Tarantino once wrote, "That's when you know you found somebody real special: when you can just shut the **** up for a minute and comfortably share silence."

In the film's second oddest casting choice, Charlton Heston stars as General Charles "Chinese" Gordon, a smooth, pious British soldier tasked with restoring peace to Sudan, due to his past ties and love of the region. He's the kind of guy who acknowledges the subtle contrasts between the words "kill" and "execute."

The peace has been shattered by Muhammad Ahmad (Laurence Olivier, apparently such a good actor, he can change the color of his skin), a self-proclaimed "chosen one"; a religious fanatic, whereas Heston's merely a fan--like Trekkies and Trekkers. The idea in sending Heston to confront him, I assume, is to fight a forest fire with a scented candle. The film plays like a middle-eastern version of the Alamo, with Heston as the Davy Crockett ("I wasn't born in the Sudan, but I got here as fast I could.")

A lot of people will point to the fact that Olivier plays a dark- skinned, middle-eastern guy and laugh. However, I'm willing to pardon it under the "Suspension of Disbelief" clause in the unwritten contract between consumer and producer. It does seem like a strange choice, though, considering the character's lack of screen time--any solid actor could have stared into the distance or menacingly whispered.

Heston, who is frequently given giant, exaggerated films to match his acting, is surprisingly low-key here, despite the bigness of the movie. And it's effective, as his character is meant to be the sensible religious man, as opposed to the flamboyant, intense alternative. For we all know religion is like a power-tool: you can build a gazebo with it, or you can use to hack your neighbor to pieces.

The film, shot in 70mm using the same anamorphic lenses as this year's "The Hateful Eight," is appropriately dazzling, but the images ultimately leave a hollow impression--a lot of establishing shots. And I couldn't help but feel like the person behind the camera didn't quite know what power he had, like a kid who uses a magic wand to poke at anthills.

"Khartoum" doesn't totally fail in its silences--there are a handful of contemplative, alluring moments--but ends up feeling more like spectacle for spectacle's sake. The theme of religion and extremism is mildly compelling, and the performances that carry those themes are equally so.

It's nowhere near good enough to replace "Khartoum" in my head as the name of the horse in "The Godfather."

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