Cinerama: The Man Who would be King

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Cinerama

The Man Who would be King

By Mike Derderian

Special to the Star

“If you can dream- and not make dreams your master,

If you can think- and not make thoughts your aim.”

Quoted from a poem entitled  “If” by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), the above two lines preach against being taken by our own dreams and thoughts. What Kipling is asking might sound somehow unrealistic, for we all have dreams and fantasies that to many are the only motivation to remain alive!

Kipling lived during the time of the great British Empire when conquering other countries was a must. The people who led those conquests were called “heroes”, an ongoing tradition till this day.

Most of Kipling’s stories were inspired from the mystical, enchanting and romantic atmospheres of India. Some of the stories he wrote were ‘‘The Jungle Book’’ and  ‘‘Kim’’ which were also made into films. In Kipling’s “the Man who would be King”, directed by John Huston in 1975, we see a man who challenges life and goes all the way with his dreams.

Sean Connery, Michael Cain and Christopher Plummer were the leading cast in this film, which also had Shakira Caine the wife of Michael in the rule of Roxanne.

It is about two Englishmen. One is Daniel Dravot (Connery), and the other is Peachy Carneham (Caine) who both are ex-soldiers in India that is under the British rule.

Daniel and Peachy came up with a mad idea of becoming kings to an unknown territory called Kafirisstan and told Rudyard Kipling (Plummer) about it after meeting him on the train.

The film cinematography reflects the ancient face of India and the traditions that were still an-tampered by the British colonization. Huston’s excellent direction takes us through the rough and savage terrain of the merciless mountains and offers dark yet smooth images that make us merge with the scenery.

One of the film’s savage scenes is that of the horse polo when Peachy asks Ootah, a tribal leader, about the ball used in the game and of what it is made of. Ootah tells him it is made out of a human head.

Despite of all these harsh and serious images there are some comic reliefs in the movie especially in the scene when Daniel and Peachy decide to help Ootah in conquering a rivaling tribe and begin to train the men and teach them how to become British soldiers.

When ready, Daniel and Peachy lead their private army on to battle, in which the most important incident in the film takes place.

During the fight scene we see Daniel in a blaze of glory charging mounted on his horse and waving his sword towards the hordes when suddenly a fatal arrow strikes him in the chest. It doesn’t kill him but hits an object which was placed in his coat.

The tribal people are struck by his appearance as he marches among them with the arrow sticking in his chest, mistaking him for a god, believing him the son of Alexander the Great who conquered these land centuries ago and that he has come to rule them again. So they stop fighting and bow for Daniel shouting the name ‘‘Sekandar’’ which in English means Alexander.

Daniel and Peachy watching the people’s reaction decide to use it in fulfilling their scheme.

The film which is in color and runs for 129 minutes offers an interesting theme on how man always tries to out-limit his horizons and go beyond his limitations as a mortal, which eventually leads to his enslavement by his own dreams.

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