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Ghost and The Darkness

1996

R

In 1896, a construction engineer from the British Army, J.H. Patterson (Kilmer) is sent to build a railway bridge across Uganda's Tsavo River for the British East African Railway. Soon after he arrives, workmen begin to disappear at night from their tents never to be seen alive again. The engineer soon discovers that a pair of man-eating lions are stalking around the bridge and campsites, killing the workmen for food. He tries a number of different methods to get rid of them, but the beasts always seem to know what Patterson is doing and avoid being shot. After 30 men have been killed Patterson's boss recruits a hunter, Charles Remington (Douglas) to hunt down and destroy the lions.

Starring:
Michael Douglas, Val Kilmer
Runtime:
1 hour, 49 minutes

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The Ghost and the Darkness is about the two maneating lions that terrorized the crew building a bridge at a desolate, nowhere place called Tsavo, Africa, circa 1890s, a place that had long been known as an area of active maneating lions. The original account written by Col. John H. Patterson, the engineer responsible for building the bridge and killing the lions (and played superbly by Val Kylmer), is one of the greatest Classics of African Hunting Literature ever written and known very well by legions of non-Bambi outdoor enthusiasts around the world. Subsequent accounts, the best of which is the well-researched wrtiing of 20th Century African hunter Peter Hathaway Capstick in his "Death in the Silent Places" and "The Maneaters of Tsavo" have become nearly as popular.

The movie does take some liberties with events but most of the key scenes in the movie actually happened though perhaps in a bit different context. For example, the movie has the den of the maneaters being found prior to the lions' deaths but it was actually found some weeks afterward. But that wasn't the point in 1898. The cave actually contained (as in the movie) the skeletal remains of hundreds of human victims, so many, in fact, the probability is that den had been used by maneaters for centuries. Not too surprising the crews and locals felt Tsavo was a place of Evil. Adding credibility to the longevity of use theory is the fact that four other maneaters who ran up a score of 50 souls in that same area were killed in a single day by hunter Robert Foran - in 1947. But wait. Professional hunter John Kingsley-Heath killed another maneater there too - in 1965. But wait - Peter Capstick's boss was killed and eaten not too far from Tsavo on Labor Day 1974. That's right - 1974. Where were YOU in 1974?
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Format: DVD
The Ghost and the Darkness, an unexpected, dark, tantalising thriller is a total success. I didn't read much into this movie before viewing, but I came out really satisfied and although many critics disliked this movie, I thought it was highly entertaining, well executed and very scary. The film succeeds a lot thanks to the direction and visuals; the lions look truly fantastic! Wow! The other reason the movie really made me keep watching was for the atmosphere of the film. The camera angles, backgrounds, lions POV and stuff like that really gives the movie a real feeling. I personally felt like I was in Africa, running from the Ghost and the Darkness, experiencing the true terror of their roar. The film also gets high marks thanks to its very believable performances. Michael Douglas takes a surprising back seat, but it still a strong character in the film and plays out his tough character well. Val Kilmer is the star though. This is one of his best performances, he masters an Irish accent accurately, is a believable loving husband and a likeable bridge builder. The movie is not perfect however. I didn't really appreciate the voice-overs by the African friend and some of the lion attack sequences are cut too short. Despite that, the film is an atmospheric, amazingly true experience that - if you're like me - will leave you shaking and breathless.
DVD STUFF: 1/5. Theatrical trailer and viewing options. How about commentaries, bloopers or an insight into the fascinating training of the lions? That would give this disappointing DVD way more credit.
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Format: DVD
I was merely 12 years old way back in 1950s when I first read the book: The Man-Eaters of Tsavo by Lt.Colonel J.H. Patterson, DSO. Later in life, I wished this book could be made into a movie, and my dream really came true when I purchased the DVD. This movie is based entirely on the book by English railway bridge builder, John Patterson.

Ironically, the pair of male lions as depicted in the movie was borrowed from a zoo farm in Alberta, Canada. These lions were fully mane. But in the book, John Patterson described those two lions as lean and maneless...! As factually, most lions in Tsavo of Kenya don't have the beautiful mane unlike their cousins in other parts of Africa. This is unusual, maneless male lions because only females don't spot a mane. The movie will keep you on the edge of your chair from the beginning to the end - never a dull moment. I consider this as the best thrilling movie ever made in the wilds of Africa, especially at this time when the public is conscious about nature conservation. Too bad that when the movie was made in early 1900s, surround sound was not a popular feature and therefore not included, otherwise the roars of these two persistent man-eaters in the dead of the African night would be very nighmarish in our den when we watch the movie...! Yes, these two lions did chomp more than a hundred railway workers that at one stage they were compelled to quit until the pair was finally hunted down. John finally skinned the two man-eating lions and sold their skins and bones to the field museum at Springfield, Illioness. This pair of mounted, maneless notorious man-eating lions are still there for everyone to see and contemplate.

This classic movie depicting a strange aspect of yesterday-Africa is historically true and thus highly recommended. So go for it while it is still available. Cheers...!
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