Farewell to the King

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Farewell to the King
Farewell to the king film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Milius
Produced by Andre Morgan
Albert Ruddy
Screenplay by John Milius
Based on L'Adieu au Roi 
by Pierre Schoendoerffer
Music by Basil Poledouris
Cinematography Dean Semler
Edited by Anne V. Coates
Carroll Timothy O'Meara
Ruddy Morgan Productions
Distributed by Orion Pictures (1988, original) MGM (2006, DVD)
Release dates
March 3, 1989 (1989-03-03TUSA)
Running time
115 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $16 million[1]
Box office $2,420,917

Farewell to the King is a 1989 film, written and directed by John Milius. It stars Nick Nolte, Nigel Havers, Frank McRae, and Gerry Lopez and is loosely based on the 1969 novel L'Adieu au Roi by Pierre Schoendoerffer. Longtime Milius collaborator Basil Poledouris composed the musical score.


During World War II, American deserter Learoyd escapes a Japanese firing squad. Hiding himself in the wilds of Borneo, Learoyd is adopted by a head-hunting tribe of Dayaks, who consider him divine because of his blue eyes. Before long, Learoyd is the reigning king of the Dayaks. When British soldiers approach him to rejoin the war against the Japanese, Learoyd resists. When his own tribe is threatened by the invaders, Learoyd decides to fight for their rights, and to protect their independance.

Main cast[edit]


The film was shot on location in Borneo (Bau, Kuching, Sarawak).[1][2]


According to Milius, the film was his best movie but it was "completely cut to pieces" by executives at the studio.[3] Among his complaints was cuts that removed how Learoyd managed to unify the Dyak tribes by getting the women to hold a sex strike:

[The film] was thrown away. I, as usual, was attacked viciously but in time it's come to be regarded as one of my best. In a way - I don't know why - I guess this film is more heartfelt than anything I've done since Big Wednesday... The producers - Al Ruddy and Andre Morgan - who are friends of mine now - were lied to by Orion executives. They did a very careful divide-and-conquer and turned us against each other. They [Ruddy and Morgan] would love to recut it the way I wanted... We'd all love to recut that movie and rerelease it.[4]

Mike Medavoy, Milius' former agent who was head of Orion Pictures at the time, wrote in 2002 that:

Unfortunately, many things stopped Farewell to the King from being successful. There were endless arguments between Al and John, and between John and us over the cutting of the film. John ended up being mad at me for years, but we've become close friends again. In the end, the film just didn't play. Perhaps audiences weren't ready to see a white soldier become the king of an indigenous tribe in Borneo. It was one of a group of daring Orion movies that didn't make money but, in retrospect, is a movie we are all very proud to have been a part of.[5]


Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes retrospectively collected reviews from 11 critics and gave the film a score of 55%, with an average rating of 5.5 out of 10.[6]

Roger Ebert gave the film 3/4 stars. Ebert praised Nolte for his skill as actor, and his ability to inhabit a role rather than merely visit.[7]

Milius later said he felt he had made a "great film".[8]


Farewell to the King was released to DVD by MGM on June 6, 2006.


  1. ^ a b Los Angeles Times, November 8, 1987, K4: The Wild Man of Hollywood Meets the Wilds of Borneo Relinked 2014-07-01
  2. ^ New York Times, February 26, 1989, H15: In the Wilds of Borneo, Legend Takes Root
  3. ^ Ken Plume, "Interview with John Milius", IGN Film, 7 May 2003 accessed 5 January 2013
  4. ^ Segaloff, Nat, "John Milius: The Good Fights", Backstory 4: Interviews with Screenwriters of the 1970s and 1980s, Ed. Patrick McGilligan, Uni of California 2006 p 305
  5. ^ Medavoy, Mike with Josh Young, You're Only as Good as Your Next One, Astria, 2002 p 174-175
  6. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/farewell_to_the_king/ Rotten Tomatoes Flixster
  7. ^ Roger Ebert (March 3, 1989). "Farewell to the King". Archived from the original on 2013-04-24. 
  8. ^ http://www.craveonline.com.au/entertainment/film/interviews/625751-exclusive-interview-john-milius-on-milius

External links[edit]