Guns at Batasi - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Guns at Batasi Reviews

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April 22, 2017
"Guns at Batasi" is an interesting film that escaped my attention at the time it came out. I was living then at a boarding school in Beirut, Lebanon. Many British and American films played in the cinemas there, and we students were permitted to go, so I saw many movies back then. It's possible that "Guns at Batasi" was not distributed in Lebanon; it's not the sort of film that was common in the large movie houses in those days before multi-screen cinemas.

Richard Attenborough stars as Sgt. Major Lauderdale, commander of a regiment of mostly bored British soldiers who spend nearly all of their time partying, hanging out at their mess hall, and pretending to be real soldiers. Then the government of the fictional British colony they inhabit is overthrown in a coup d'etat. The plot raises many questions about the rights of indigenous people and the ethics of colonialism, but none of the questions is ever allowed to be answered. Perhaps that was too introspective for the early '60s.

Attenborough was at his most pompous in this film (made 29 years before his turn as the flawed genius creator of"Jurassic Park"), so it was fun to watch him bloviate. I've always suspected that Sir Richard would have been insufferable in his schoolboy days and that young Richard spent a lifetime preparing for this role. He was 40 at the time it was shot.

The situation depicted in the film - an indigenous people throwing off their colonialist masters - is certainly relevant today. This same story, if filmed today, would undoubtedly be more violent and less genteel on both sides of the conflict. The idea that revolutionaries would still obey the absurd demands of the outnumbered British authorities would bring mocking laughter today. So one must consider this aspect of the plot in the context of African independence movements of the time when terrorism was barely in anyone's consciousness.

The feeble attempt at a romantic storyline seemed intended for the sole purpose of inserting a pretty girl into the film. Mia Farrow in her very first film role didn't get to do much, and her lover (a Private Wilkes, played by John Leyton) was vapid and dull. I wish they had abandoned this subplot unless they intended to do more with it, which was impossible in a film like this.

This film is enjoyable if considered in the context of the time at which it was made and if one is an Attenborough fan. It's in black and white, which helps to give it an historical feel.
August 29, 2014
Richard Attenborough steals the entire film with a tremendous performance as RSM Lauderdale.
½ May 27, 2014
good but dated political drama
½ December 26, 2010
- Richard Attenborough gives an outstanding performance as Regimental Sgt Major Lauderdale and steals every scene he‚(TM)s in. The movie takes place on a British Army post during a coup d‚(TM)√ (C)tat in a former African colony. Most of the action takes place in the Sergeants Mess with a terrific cast of character actors playing the sergeants and officers, but Attenborough‚(TM)s performance alone is reason enough to watch this movie‚¶
½ March 15, 2010
Dissects with a piercing personal touch the strict disciplinary attitudes that govern a true British soldier and makes him retain his own individual pride in the face of political forces unappreciative of his principles.
½ January 20, 2010
Good plot with a great cast. Well worth watching for those who like this type of movie.
Super Reviewer
November 9, 2008
it got off to a slow start so i was sat there thinking it was gonna be a couple of hours of my life i'd never get back (i'd watched oliver twist earlier) and it slowly built and built into a bloody good film. once i'd watched it all the way through i was enthralled. stellar performance by richard attenborough as major lauderdale. john guillermin hasn't really made a great deal of good films. i guess the towering inferno just about makes it into that category but generally this is his best
½ October 1, 2008
The last remnants of British colonialism in 1960's Africa gets caught up in a political coup. A first rate cast of character actors and a tremendous, intelligent script makes this essential viewing - which makes it all the more surprisingly it is so little known. Richard Attenborough is absolutely brilliant as the Regimental Sergeant Major.
½ September 28, 2008
The end of Colonialism meets the stiff British upper lip. The script is excellent and deals with a microcosm of the ending of an empire, Attenborough is in a stereotypical role, but he plays it strongly.
March 26, 2008
This film does not receive the attention it deserves.

This is not just a post war, "war" film, but a post Suez film. This is really all about Britain not facing up to end of Empire, Attenborough's RSM, showed great courage and military competence, and did stick to his principles- or at least strickt military procedure. In the end though he just couldn't cope with the new political reality. That's exactly where Britain was then, post Suez but pre-Aden. Indeed some would argue that this film still sums up Britain's view of its place in the world.
February 5, 2008
This is THE post-war british 'war' film about the end of the British Empire. Wonderful film. I recomend it to anyone.
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