Khartoum - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Khartoum Reviews

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Super Reviewer
January 28, 2011
Anytime you watch a Charlton Heston Movie you know 2 things, Its going to be outstanding and it's going to be long, and this movie is both. Also Laurence Olivier is in this and it makes it a awesome move with international flair. Seldom do we see a film made with this magnitude today, to be filmed on location. The movie is about the famous British General Charles Gordon who will not leave the Egyptians' behind in Khartoum and without the help of the British Government he vow's to stay in Khartoum until the bitter end. General Gordon was a God fearing Christian, which the movie brought out many times, and the foe was a Muslim, in today's pansy world when it comes to American Television you will not get any air play on this one as it might be insulting to some. So if you want to see it either special order or Netflix while they still have it. And it gets 5 stars in my review.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
June 7, 2012
It took almost ten years after "Gettysburg" to make "Gods and Generals", six days shy of sixteen years after "Return of the Jedi" to get started on the "Star Wars" prequels and twenty-seven years after "The Four Feathers" for them to make this. Granted, this isn't really a prequel to "The Four Feathers", regardless of how Wikipedia makes it seem under the article of "Feathers", but eitherway, the point is that it sure takes them a long time to make prequels, though in this case, I can forgive that, not because this film really isn't related to "The Four Feathers", outside of the fact that it's about the real-life British general at the beginning of the dramatized "Feathers", but because they probably never had any intention of making this, it's just that, in the '60s, they were digging for any epic for Charlton Heston to be in, because he just had to have his fix, including the scrapped ones. I can just see Heston walking into a film studio, scratching himself and crying, begging for another epic to be in, and then they just dig out some idea they had for a prequel to "The Four Feathers". Evidently, whatever kind of addiction that is causes something similar to meth mouth, which would explain Heston's crazy jaw; it certainly appears to cause some kind of breathing problems, because he was heaving like crazy in a lot of his films, or at least that's my excuse for his overacting in a lot of dated performances. Something that certainly hasn't dated is Laurence Olivier's ability to bypass his being so absurdly white and play a different race quite convincingly. Well, in all fairness, after he went black for "Othello" mere months before this film came out, an Islamic messiah should be a walk in the park, but eitherway, the point is that Olivier delivers once again, and with all of my talk about Heston becoming dates as a hit-or-miss actor, this is decidedly one of his hits. Still, as much as Heston surprises and Olivier fulfills predictions, neither are constant in shocking enough to completely jolt the audience out of a degree of boredome.

As I'll touch more upon later, this film hasn't quite recieved the attention it deserves for being very sophisticated on a level found ahead of its time, among intriguing dramas of today's sensibilites, and yet, as good as that is, it all stands as problematic, because, I don't know about y'all, but good and sophisticated dramas nowadays tend not to be the most exciting films in the world. Well, sure enough, with this film's sophistication comes dryness, and much of it, perhaps not to a terribly intense degree, yet still thoroughly enough to where the film often finds itself limping as it drenches the atmosphere with too much sobering meditation, leaving it to dull down in some spots. That steam loss is further intensified by, well, yeah, you guessed it: repetition. Speaking of repetition, I bring that flaw up a lot, yet justifiably every time, and this time is not exception, for although the film is far from monotonous, it does begin to tread familiar ground, making only so much progress in intrigue for a fair couple of periods in time. Neither the film's slowness or repetition are terribly intense, yet they remain presence enough to leave the final product to run on an ever-diluting amount of juice until it actually reaches a sharp point. Of course, once the film reaches that point, it really strikes at you with surprising force that really keeps you going. Still, although the film boasts certain points that are considerably more engrossing than other, it's not like the film isn't consistently enjoyable, being kept going by quite a bit.

Frank Cordell's score is grand and diverse, capturing the sweep and spirit of the film with grace, while the nifty and dynamic production designs construct the world in a buyable and immersive fashion, made all the more gripping by Edward Scaife's handsome, broadly-scoped cinematography. The film's fine visual and audible touches make the film engaging, especially when they all unite to a single point amidst the action sequences, of which there are only so many, yet each one is grand and intense, with thrills that may not be as sharp as they were for their time, yet remain gripping, even to this day. Still, even with all of the film's fine style, as I said, much of this film is dry and sophisticated, aspects that dull down the film, though not terribly, as the script really is fairly intelligent, boasting no terribly sharp lines or anything, yet much intelligence, as well as depth and intrigue within both the politics and humanity of the story, without feeling forceful in any way, and for that, credit not only goes out to Robert Ardrey's screenplay, but also Basil Dearden's direction, as he is able to draw much depth from this film, though not without the help of some talented performers, particularly the people we're really coming to see. Laurence Olivier is surprisingly rather underused as Muhammad Ahmad, yet for every scene in which he's present, he steals the show, being virtually unrecognizable, not just because they caked him in makeup or because he's putting on a strong accent, but because he gives off such a transformative aura of the strength and humanity that made Ahmad such a strong force as a leader, making him a strikingly complex, yet mysterious antagonist for the limited time he's on. Olivier certainly delivers a strong performance, as expected, while leading man Charlton Heston really catches us off guard. Much of Heston's performances have become dated, and with the role of General Charles Gordon requesting acting challenges from an English accent to subtle yet palpable layers upon presence, I'm sure even some of your less cynical Charlton Heston viewers would expect him to slip up, yet Heston puts that English blood to good use, doing a surprisingly pretty descent job at the accent, complimented by a sparklingly charismatic capturing of that good old fashion English nobility and charm. However, as the depth of Gordon exposes itself, Heston surprises yet again with a subtle, yet, at points, intense aura of vulnerability and reflection that's very sobering and very insightful, giving us a very sobering view of the humanity within the notorious general to break up a very engaging view of the strength within Gordon, making him a powerful lead presence strong enough to carry this ultimately rewarding piece of drama and sophistication.

In conclusion, the film collapses into much slowness, sometimes even dullness, being pulled down by many a point of dryness within the tone, as well as a degree of repetition, yet it's easy to power through these faults, thanks to fine style, as well as Robert Ardrey's fine script script, with intelligence and depth brought to life quite sharply by director Basil Dearden and a strong cast, headed by a predictably transformative and effective Laurence Olivier and a surprisingly deep, heavily layered, when not simply charismatic Charlton Heston, ultimately leaving "Khartoum" a fascinatingly sophisticated and rewardingly compelling mini-epic.

3/5 - Good
Super Reviewer
½ July 9, 2008
Interesting Middle East action/war film.
March 24, 2012
Heston is engaging as the protaganist, and the sheer number of extras is staggering. But it's a slow drag of a film that feels much longer than its two hour run time. Laurence Olivier in black-face during this era still confuses the hell out of me. Basing a movie about the Horn of Africa and casting a white man in the role of the Mahdi is just bizarre, and would require an awe inspiring performance to overlook - which unfortunately Olivier just doesn't muster.
February 12, 2012
Charlton Heston was very good as Chinese Gordon and Laurence Olivier was also good but these men are two of the best actors of their time so no surprise there. The surprise was the pacing of the film, which was fast at times and moderate at others so it did not drag at all. Great plot line and twists and amazing cinematography. Great retelling of colonialism and scramble for Africa and excellent ending.
½ November 29, 2009
a typically fun Heston epic, although the way he so rapidly ascends to glory is a bit incongruous, just like with El Cid
August 13, 2009
A big movie that doesn't short on drama, action, and British military incompetence in the late 1800's.
A true historical account of Khartoum in the Sudan, there was no holding back of the budget on this grand display of Charlton Heston and Laurence Olivier. Wow, is Laurence Olivier tan.
The sweeping landscapes, cast of thousands, and dramatic sequences make this a very good historical and theatrical watch.
The drama is a little over the top sometimes but everything else is strong.
½ July 26, 2009
Some people might say it's Heston w/a bad accent and Olivier in black face. they're right but this is tsill one of my favorites. "Oh Beloveds! Did I not promise thee a miracle?"
September 22, 2006
The credits rolled by to slowly in the beginning so that got the movie started off wrong in my opinion. Then the movie wasn't great too. Just slow all around since it was told like a story.
March 10, 2007
al-Mahdi.. overtly dramatic, and uses pale skin huemins for Sudanese.. but overall and excellent storyline.
January 2, 2011
An epic film with a interesting story regarding the city of khartoum. The battle sequences was great and really took me by surprise. Heston plays "chinese Gordon", a man renowned for accomplishing great feats with nothing but his own wisdom. I could have svorn the musical score was by John Williams, but it is a man named Cordell who is the composer for this film. the two seem to have similar styles of music, at least from what i could hear in this film.I highly recommend this film for fans of old school epics.

December 4, 2011
Pretty bloated at points, but beautiful to look at.
½ March 25, 2015
A painless and entertaining bout with history in the desert that reminds one of the superior Lawrence of Arabia, which reached greater heights in its character study and had more memorable moments. 
May 23, 2010
Someone in Foxtel programming seems to know this film is right in the Zeitgeist. The Madhi is some islamic loon in the desert who wants to unit all islam under his leadership and have all muslims worship him as the muslim messiah. If they don't he will kill them. It is in my humble opinion Lawrence Olivier's best on screen performance, his body language and facial expressions,eye movements and contact perfectly portray a megalomaniac psychopath Great big budget big screen epic which resonates in today's current political climate. A film which I will never tire of re watching
½ November 27, 2014
Very good.... Heston and Olivier! Big set for 1966.. Its a classic... 4.5 or 5 stars...the story from 1880 is not much different then now in the middle east.. unfortunately... Its no Lawrence of Arabia though...
October 11, 2014
I enjoyed it mainly for its history, music and drama. Although these elements were there, it still lacked anything to draw me to their characters or identify with them. Most themes addressed were so oddly portrayed by an American playing Gordon with a poor accent (he was good despite this (especially his costumes) and the Mahdi was played by an Englishman. Had the themes of religious fanaticism and just colonial rule been played up stronger I think it would have been more memorable.
½ April 19, 2014
Underwhelming. I am a big fan of military dramas, especially those based on historic events, so this movie should have been a lock in terms of liking it. However, it fails to deliver.

The biggest setback is Charlton Heston's accent. He's an American putting on a posh English accent, and he sounds it. Just feels so...superficial. Whatever possessed the producers to go with an American in as a 19th century English general is beyond me. At the time, Heston was the go-to actor for heroic roles, so that might explain it.

Laurence Oliver is slightly better, as the Mahdi. Hardly recognisable, his accent is someones quite hilarious, and sometimes quite offensive (I would think). Were there no middle-eastern actors available at the time?

Plot also seems quite padded. Yes, the political intrigues had to be there to show why General Gordon was in the situation he was in, and did what he did. However, there seems to be a lot of pointless scenes in the movie, particularly in the first half.

This said, there are some good battle scenes. Plus, the movie seems fairly true to history (which you can't say about all historical dramas), so is useful as a history lesson.
½ March 1, 2014
Charlton Heston is one intelligent badass who faces off against the extremely tanned Laurence Olivier ;) Khartoum is an interesting display of military strategies, politics, and history that is quite enjoyable.
This is warfare in the grand scale with both sides sporting hundreds to thousands of troops (well I'm sure some extras were used more than once) in a dry and desolate part of the world.
If you are into historical warfare movies, Khartoum is a must watch. So good.
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