The Ghost and the Darkness
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Only the most incredible parts of the story are true. Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer star in this tense, terrific and true adventure set in 1896 East Africa. There, two lions on man-eating rampage have shut down the construction of a railway. The beasts hunt together, showing no fear of man or fire. What's more, they're killing for sport rather than for food-and they have an almost supernatural knack for knowing what traps await them. Big-game hunter Remington (Douglas) and construction engineer Patterson (Kilmer) set out to stop these unstoppable monsters. But, in this astonishing tale of man against beast, the hunters become the hunted.
Val Kilmer stars as Lt. Col. John Patterson, a 19th-century Irish engineer drafted by Britain's railroad bosses to build a trestle bridge over an African river, thus expanding the empire a tiny bit more. In Tsavo, Patterson is instantly hailed for killing a man-eating lion that had been making life hell for native workers. But morale sinks when a pair of unstoppable big cats devour more men and destroy the project. Along comes an Ahab-like, expatriate American hunter (Michael Douglas) to help Patterson face the almost preternatural powers of the two killers. The script by William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) is based on fact, though the film owes more to Spielberg (specifically to Jaws) than history. There are also suggestive echoes of Kipling and Conrad in the material and characters, and there are hints of emotional complexity and psychological nuance that make one wish this could have been a great film instead of a merely fun one. --Tom Keogh
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The Tsavo Man-Eaters were a pair of man-eating Tsavo lions responsible for the deaths of a number of construction workers on the Kenya-Uganda Railway from March through December 1898. The significance of this pair of lions was their unusual behavior, such as the number of men killed and the manner of the attacks.
This movie has so many dimensions that warrant 5 stars that we can't even list them all. A compelling story based on real events. Bring popcorn, or you'll chew your nails off. All 10 of them! Enjoy 5x
The Ghost and the Darkness, the names for these two fearless lions, is a 1996 film starring Michael Douglas as the great white hunter Charles Remington and Val Kilmer as Colonel John Henry Patterson whose mission was to build the bridge at all costs. When you toss in great African scenery and Jerry Goldsmith's music you have a great adventure film loosely based on The Man-Eaters of Tsavo.
The lions are presented as predators that are meticulous and deadly as they hunt their prey among the terrified construction workers. The scenes where they attack are gruesome. These lions are not afraid of anything.
As the construction camp is abandoned by the international array of workers, Remington and Patterson track the lions and discover their lair in a cave. What they find in the cave is like stumbling upon a trophy case of a serial killer.
For the first time you see fear etched in Remington's face. His words are profound, "Lions don't do this. Lions never had a lair like this. They're doing it for the pleasure." Patterson calmly replied, "They'll know we've been here."
What follows is a strategy of the great hunter and the seasoned military officer. Unfortunately, there are tragic consequences.
The fight scene between Patterson and the last lion keeps you on the edge of your seat. It is well executed.
There has been criticism of Val Kilmer's acting in this fine film. Patterson is a complex character who evolves over the course of the film. Kilmer played the role well.
This is an exceptional film. I fail to see why it has been overlooked by the general public.
Patterson's book The Man-Eaters of Tsavo is available from Amazon as well. The lions are on display in the Field Museum in Chicago.