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 Post subject: Khartoum (the movie)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:39 pm  |  Posted from: United Kingdom
  

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Over the weekend I came across an old film being shown on TV and decided to watch it, I had last seen it many years ago and probably well before I had made any visits to Egypt. The film was ‘Khartoum’ and stars Charlton Heston as the British army officer General Charles (Chinese) Gordon, later to be known as “Gordon of Khartoum”. It also stars some other great actors such as Sir Ralph Richardson in the role of the British Prime Minister William Gladstone and Laurence Olivier as the self proclaimed ‘Mahdi’ or the "guided one or the expected one of Mohammed" he who will redeem Islam and appear sometime before ‘the day of judgement’ to violently rid the world of evil and although this is not mentioned in the Koran, it is in the ‘hadiths’ and believed by many Muslims.

It is set in London, Egypt and the Sudan and as far as I am aware it follows quite accurately the events of the time around 1883. The Mahdi and his followers were on the rise in Sudan and becoming a threat to Egypt and who (leaving politics aside) sent a poorly trained army of 10,000 men under the command of a British officer Colonel William Hicks to suppress the uprising. Hicks and his army were lured deep into the desert of Sudan and subsequently massacred by the Mahdi’s 100,000 tribesmen followers. Despite pleas for intervention by the British population and others, Gladstone was reluctant to get involved but as a gesture he did send General Gordon to Khartoum as he was respected there for having ended the slave trade in that country. Gordon met with the Mahdi and soon realised that it was his (the Mahdi's) intention to kill all the Egyptians and anyone else that did not follow his cause within the city of Khartoum, men women and children as an example to anyone who opposed him. His intentions were quite clear that he would commit this massacre as part of fulfilling the prophesy and it would continue until he had prayed at the mosques in Cairo, Mecca, Istanbul and Baghdad, basically a domination of the Islamic world and the rest of the world would tremble before him.

General Gordon goes against his orders not to intervene and with the help of his aid Colonel Stewart sets about defending the city by digging a flooded trench between the White and the Blue Nile rivers to thwart a frontal attack on the city by the tribesmen. The rest is history and a long siege takes place and pressure at home builds to force Gladstone to send a British Army column to relieve and rescue Gordon from the besieged city of Khartoum. In the meantime the level of the Nile drops and the Mahdi’s forces attack and take the city subsequently killing Gordon (who’s head was stuck on a spike) and a further 30,000 inhabitants. The relief force arrived 2 days after the massacre and the Mahdi died about 8 months later and the Jihad itself faltered, historically it was 10 years later that another British force was sent to the Sudan to retake Khartoum.

I could not help but make the comparison between those events over 130 years ago and the recent rise in Islamic fundamentalism with the ISIS group waging jihad and wanting to form a Caliphate to rule the whole of the Islamic world. The fervour of the tribesmen to follow the Mahdi and the fervour of the followers of ISIS to commit atrocities in the name of their cause and how quickly a small core of followers could become a formidable force in the world if their message has some appeal and they are left unchecked, a case of history repeating itself.

On the film itself, it was one of a few shot in ‘Ultra Panavision 70’ which was a very wide film version of 70mm and is very suited to the expansive dessert scenes. Most interesting is the start of the film which amongst others shows actual footage of men standing in the Nile using traditional Shadufs and the area around the Colossi of Memnon which is completely flooded right up to the mountains. It is easy to see why there is now very little visible of the Mortuary temple of Amenhotep III behind the statues as the ground must have been saturated during the inundation causing the heavy buildings and statues to sink below ground level over the following millenniums, in the film people can be seen wading chest deep in water as high as the statue plinths.

Official film trailer
phpBB [video]


You can also see a shot of Karnak across the sacred lake and the Temple of Isis at Philae after flooding by the Low Dam and taken before it was moved by UNESCO to its present position:
14929

Another thing that interested me was the Nile paddle steamer used in the film by General Gordon to reach Khartoum, it’s name was the ‘Bordein’. She was built on the Thames in 1869 and shipped out to be assembled in Cairo, the vessel was restored in 1936 and only scraped in 2006 so was in all probability the same one used in the film and by General Gordon. It is nice to know that there are plans to restore the vessel as the cut up parts parts are still available. I could not find an image showing the original vessel on the water.

This is the Bordein awaiting restoration in the Sudan:
14928

The boat can be seen briefly at 1.13 in this trailer clip for the fim
phpBB [video]


I did search for a good copy of the movie on Youtube for anyone who fancied watching it, but could not find a decent copy because of its wide screen format, this is the best I could find but it is a bit dark and looks to have been a video made from the projected film..
phpBB [video]

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 Post subject: Re: Khartoum (the movie)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:05 pm  |  Posted from: Egypt
  

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Very interesting Horus. I'm sure I've seen that film...many moons ago. One of the regular repeats I suspect.

Found this (not very good) picture of Bordein.

Image

There's several pictures of the reconstruction work here :

http://www.mallinsonae.com/bordein

And more info/pics here :

http://www.melik.org.uk/2011/02/sudans- ... r-bordein/


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 Post subject: Re: Khartoum (the movie)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:20 pm  |  Posted from: United Kingdom
  

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Thanks for the additional info :up

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 Post subject: Re: Khartoum (the movie)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 6:14 am  |  Posted from: Egypt
  

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In the beginning of the film it shows the West Bank of the Nile and not a single house in sight. 1966..... 8)

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 Post subject: Re: Khartoum (the movie)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:02 pm  |  Posted from: France
  

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We ran that film one night didn't we Doctor?
I'm sure I have a copy.

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 Post subject: Re: Khartoum (the movie)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:03 am  |  Posted from: Egypt
  

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I have the DVD.... 8)

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 Post subject: Re: Khartoum (the movie)
PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:43 pm  |  Posted from: United States
  

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Looks like a very interesting film. I'm going to check it out for sure. By the way, who's the narrator in the trailer? His voice sounds so familiar.


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 Post subject: Re: Khartoum (the movie)
PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:56 pm  |  Posted from: United Kingdom
  

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Corsi wrote:
Looks like a very interesting film. I'm going to check it out for sure. By the way, who's the narrator in the trailer? His voice sounds so familiar.

I think you will find it is the British actor Leo Genn :up

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 Post subject: Re: Khartoum (the movie)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:29 am  |  Posted from: Egypt
  

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Horus wrote:
Corsi wrote:
Looks like a very interesting film. I'm going to check it out for sure. By the way, who's the narrator in the trailer? His voice sounds so familiar.

I think you will find it is the British actor Leo Genn :up


A familiar face as well as a voice. I remember Leo Genn in classics : as Petronius in Quo Vadis and Starbuck in Moby-Dick (the Gregory Peck version).

A bit of movie trivia for you :

The co-founder of the Starbucks coffee chain. a history teacher/ writer by the name of Gordon Bowker, was a great fan of the Herman Melville classic and wanted to name the embryonic business "Pequod"...the name of Captain Ahab's doomed ship.

Mr Bowker suggested the name Pequod to his then-creative partner, Terry Heckler, who responded: 'No one's going to drink a cup of Pee-quod!'

So he chose the name of the first mate Starbuck....and the rest, as they say, is history.


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