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|
|February 23, 1990|
Mountains of the Moon is a 1990 Rankcolor 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 an early film appearance 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.
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- Patrick Bergin as Richard Francis Burton
- Iain Glen as John Hanning Speke
- Richard E. Grant as Larry Oliphant
- Fiona Shaw as Isabel Arundell (Mrs Burton as from 1861)
- John Savident as Lord Murchison
- James Villiers as Lord Oliphant
- Adrian Rawlins as Edward
- Peter Vaughan as Lord Houghton
- Delroy Lindo as Mabruki
- Bernard Hill as Dr. David Livingstone
- Matthew Marsh as William
- Richard Caldicot as Lord Russell
- Christopher Fulford as Herne
- Garry Cooper as Stroyan
- Roshan Seth as Ben Amir
- Omar Sharif as Arab chief in Cairo
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." In Newsweek, critic Jack Kroll wrote, "The exploits of Sir Richard Francis Burton make Lawrence of Arabia look like a tourist. . . . From scene to scene this film grips you as few movies do, moving between Africa and England to spotlight an extraordinary range of characters in both 'primitive' and 'civilized' cultures: from the African tribal chiefs, mild or murderous, to the nabobs of the Royal Geographical Society, honest or treacherous."
- 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.
- Jack Kroll, "In the heart of darkness," Newsweek, February 26, 1990
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 at AllMovie
- Mountains of the Moon at the TCM Movie Database
- Mountains of the Moon at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Mountains of the Moon at Box Office Mojo
- Mountains of the Moon at Rotten Tomatoes
- Mountains of the Moon: The greatest river in the world Movie clip at Jinni