The Ghost and the Darkness

Tucson Weekly

DIRECTED BY: Stephen Hopkins

REVIEWED: 10-17-96

Screenwriter William Goldman, who wrote Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President's Men and The Stepford Wives, among others, proves once again that the nineties will never be as good as the seventies, movie-wise. This "true" tale about great white hunters protecting the natives from a couple of man-eating lions endorses the standard myopic myths about colonialism, manhood, hunting, etc. Val Kilmer plays John Patterson, an engineer who has been sent to the African savanna to build a bridge that will expand the ivory trade. He speaks of Africa as if it were a town, rather than a continent ("I love Africa!"), and sets about proving his manhood and protecting his men (various racial stereotypes, mitigated somewhat by one or two heroic black characters) against a pair of man-eating lions. A great hunter, Charles Remington (Michael Douglas) comes to show him how it's done. The two men bond, hunt, kill etc. Remington remarks with revulsion that the pair of unnatural lions "are doing it for pleasure," i.e., killing, but the movie doesn't have the intelligence to draw the connection between the lion's pleasure in killing and man's pleasure in hunting, colonization and dominance. After a while, it's hard to not root for the lions. At least they're resisting the conquest of their domain.

--Stacey Richter

Other Films by Stephen Hopkins
Lost in Space

Film Vault Suggested Links
End of Days
The Island of Dr. Moreau

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