Monday, August 20, 2012

"The Ghost and the Darkness" with Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer (1996)

This is an amazing story, and true. The film takes place in Africa in 1896 and tells the story of  an engineer named John Patterson, played by Val Kilmer, who leaves his pregnant wife at home in England in order to build a railroad bridge over Uganda's Tsavo River for the British East African Railway. He has experience with wildlife from his earlier exploits in India, where he was forced to hunt and kill a tiger which was preying upon his workers. Armed with confidence, and a trusted native named Samuel, played by John Kani, he sets forth on one of the wildest adventures he will ever have.

In his first few weeks at the worksite, he is forced to kill a lion that has attacked his men. He is certain that his rifle will always be able to vanquish, if not scare away, all of his opponents. But, within just a few short months in Africa, two more lions, who have been named “Ghost” and “Darkness” by the natives, have killed and eaten several more workers. Clearly, Patterson realizes, he needs some outside assistance.
To that end, American big game hunter Charles Remington, is called upon to help rid the worksite along the river of the two lions; both man eaters who seem to be working in unison. By this point, the lions have  stalked, and killed, a total of 130 workers in just a few short months.

Before calling upon Remington to assist him in killing these two man eaters, Patterson has tried; unsuccessfully; to kill them using some of the methods he used while building bridges in India. But these two lions have a sixth sense, and are able to elude; as well as outwit; the two would be hunters. When Patterson’s wife and newborn child arrive at the camp, they are immediately attacked and killed by the lions. Now the hunt is personal, and soon the two men find themselves to be the hunted, rather than the hunters.
This is an edge of your seat film, punctuated by the beauty of Africa and all of its natural wonders. It is also a very real lesson in how we tend to think of ourselves as being superior to everything in nature, and how quickly our perceptions can be challenged.

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