Mountains of the Moon (film)
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|Mountains of the Moon|
|Directed by||Bob Rafelson|
|Produced by||Daniel Melnick|
|Screenplay by||William Harrison
|Based on||Burton and Speke
by William Harrison
|Music by||Michael Small|
|Edited by||Thom Noble|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Release dates||February 23, 1990|
|Running time||136 minutes|
Mountains of the Moon is a 1990 theatrical film depicting the 1857–58 journey of Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke in their expedition to central Africa – the project that culminated in Speke's discovery of the source of the Nile River. The expedition led to a bitter rivalry between the two men. The film stars Patrick Bergin as Burton and Iain Glen as Speke. Delroy Lindo made a film debut as an African native the adventurers meet.
The film was directed by Bob Rafelson, for whom this was something of a dream project. It was based on the novel Burton and Speke by William Harrison. The narrative concentrates on the relationship between the two very different men. A first time epic for Rafelson, it opened to positive reviews.
The original music was composed by Michael Small, who incorporated genuine traditional African music into a traditional orchestral palette. The soundtrack album was released on Polydor Records, but is long out of print. There are two major themes, one for Burton and the other for Africa. There is also a love theme for Burton's relationship to his wife Isabel Burton (portrayed in the movie by Fiona Shaw).
Peter Travers, writing in Rolling Stone, called the film "an occasion", adding that "In the honorable tradition of David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia and John Huston's Man Who Would Be King, Mountains is an epic of sweep and intimacy. Rafelson's fondness for breathtaking vistas sometimes slows the pacing to Masterpiece Theatre speed, but his commitment to stimulate the mind along with the senses fires the film." Using adjectives such as "fascinating, magnificent, refreshing", Siskel & Ebert gave the film two thumbs up. Later, in the Chicago Sun-Times, Ebert wrote: "Mountains of the Moon is completely absorbing. It tells its story soberly and intelligently, and with quiet style. It doesn't manufacture false thrills or phony excitement. It's the kind of movie that sends you away from the screen filled with curiosity to know more about this man Burton."
- The film depicts Isabel Arundell coming across a lewdly illustrated copy of Burton's translation of The Perfumed Garden in the mid-1850s, before they married. This work, however, was first published over 30 years later in 1886.
- At a dinner party, Burton tells his future in-laws that he speaks 23 languages. At that point in his life, however, the number would have been much smaller. He states that he has "read Confucius, the Koran and the Kabbalah in their original manuscripts", but he never mastered a Chinese language and did not learn Hebrew until much later in life.
- Travers, Peter (23 February 1990). "Mountains of the Moon". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
- "Youtube: Siskel & Ebert - Mountains of the Moon/Where the Heart is (1990)". Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- Ebert, Roger (23 March 1990). "Mountains of the Moon". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
E. Rice's Biography of Burton: Edward Rice "Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: A Biography ", Da Capo Press (June 5, 2001)
- Mountains of the Moon at the Internet Movie Database
- Mountains of the Moon: The greatest river in the world Movie clip at Jinni