Mountains of the Moon (1990) - Rotten Tomatoes

Mountains of the Moon (1990)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Director Bob Rafelson fulfilled a lifelong dream when he finally received backing to complete Mountains of the Moon. The film recreates the exploratory adventures of 19th century visionaries Sir Richard Burton (Patrick Bergin) and John Henning Speke (Iain Glen). The heart of the film is the effort by Burton and Speke to discover the true source of the Nile river. This occurs well into the film, after several torturous scenes involving the injuries sustained by the protagonists during other expeditions and their growing friendship (which, the film intimates, goes far beyond friendship). Rafaelson's fascination with this story, and his insistence upon painstaking historical accuracy, unfortunately compromises his ability to make an interesting film. There are so many starts and stops during the first half that we sincerely hope Burton and Speke will chuck it all and set up a pub in Bristol or something. What saves Mountains of the Moon is the rapport between its stars and the brilliant, epic-like cinematography of Roger Deakins.

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Patrick Bergin
as Richard Burton
Iain Glen
as John Hanning Speke
Fiona Shaw
as Isabel
Peter Vaughan
as Lord Houghton
Anna Massey
as Mrs. Arundell
Delroy Lindo
as Mabruki
John Savident
as Lord Murchison
James Villiers
as Lord Oliphant
Richard Caldicot
as Lord Russell
Garry Cooper
as Stroyan
Roshan Seth
as Ben Amir
Doreen Mantle
as Mrs. Speke
Peter Eyre
as Norton Shaw
Frances Cuka
as Lady Houghton
Craig Crosbie
as Swinburne
Paul Onsongo
as Sidi Bombay
Leonard Juma
as Jemadar
Philip Voss
as Col. Rigby
Pip Torrens
as Lt. Hesketh
Alison Limerick
as Sorceress
Asiba Asiba
as Nubian Servant
Ian Vincent
as Lt. Allen
Stewart Harwood
as Attendant
George Malpas
as Lead Actor
Robert Whelan
as 1st Reporter
Bill Croasdale
as 2nd Reporter
Zam Zam Issa
as Somali Girl
Pineniece Joshua
as Somali Girl
Norta Muhammed
as Somali Girl
Fatima Said
as Somali Girl
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Critic Reviews for Mountains of the Moon

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (3)

An engaging and robust tale of exploration and adventure.

Full Review… | March 16, 2002
Spirituality and Practice

Director Bob Rafelson, whose claim to fame is the impeccably nuanced Five Easy Pieces, manages to effectively play on the differences between Burton and Speke.

July 25, 2001
Apollo Guide

Audience Reviews for Mountains of the Moon


Between a 6/10 and 7/10, Rafelson's anthropological seriousness is beyond question, but considering his '60s roots, his dramatic sense seems curiously unenlightened.

Lee Mayo
Lee Mayo

We viewed the entire film and found it flawed but acceptable. The story is hard to follow at times and the acting is not great. The story seems to be told as if the viewer already knows quite a bit about Richard Burton and John Speke. If not, there's a handicap. Also, despite being in some of the most scenic country on earth, I thought they did a poor job of inserting the audience into the country. Too bad.

Dave Ferree
Dave Ferree

This is an excellent movie that portrays Capt. Sir Richard Francis Burton and his mate, John Hanning Speke's travels to find the source of the Nile, and travails to claim the right to say that either of these two gentlemen adventurers discovered the source of the Nile makes for one of the biggest and best EPIC adventure films in recent memory.. This is a movie That should be watched more then once and you wouldn't get bored. 4 1/2 stars

Bruce Bruce
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

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