“Khartoum” is a historical epic film released in 1966. It falls under the genres of adventure, drama, and war. Directed by Basil Dearden and produced by Julian Blaustein, the film was released during a time of heightened interest in historical epics and adventure films. It provided an exciting and grand portrayal of an important event in British colonial history.

Basil Dearden, a British director known for his work in various genres, took the helm of “Khartoum”. He was well-regarded for his ability to handle large-scale productions and bring historical events to life with authenticity. The screenplay was written by Robert Ardrey, an American playwright and screenwriter known for his work on films such as “The Zoo Story” and “The Last Safari”. The film was produced by Julian Blaustein Productions, a production company known for producing notable films such as “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “Broken Arrow”.

“Khartoum” is set in the 1880s during the Mahdist War in Sudan, when the charismatic religious leader Muhammad Ahmad led a revolt against British forces. The film focuses on the conflict between British Major General Charles “Chinese” Gordon and his attempts to defend the besieged city of Khartoum against the advancing forces of the Mahdi.

The film’s plot revolves around the central conflict between Gordon, played by Charlton Heston, and the Mahdi, portrayed by Laurence Olivier. The charismatic and stubborn Gordon is an experienced military officer and viceroy of Sudan who is sent to relieve the siege of Khartoum. Meanwhile, the Mahdi, convinced of his divine mission, seeks to establish a new order in Sudan under Islamic law. The film follows Gordon’s efforts to hold off the Mahdi’s forces and the political machinations behind his mission.

In addition to Heston and Olivier, the film features a talented cast, including Richard Johnson as Colonel J.B. Cochrane, U.S. Consul in Khartoum, and Ralph Richardson as Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone. The performances of the lead actors were highly praised for their portrayal of complex characters and their ability to capture the tension and drama of the historical events.

Upon its release, “Khartoum” received positive reviews from critics and was well-received by audiences. The film was praised for its stunning visuals, epic scale, and strong performances. Heston and Olivier’s performances were particularly highlighted as major strengths of the film. However, some critics felt that the film lacked emotional depth and failed to explore the complexities of the historical events it depicted.

“Khartoum” achieved moderate success at the box office, earning approximately $7 million worldwide. It was nominated for various awards, including two Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Original Score, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score. The film’s impact on popular culture was notable, as it contributed to the continued interest in historical epics throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

“Khartoum” left a lasting legacy in the genre of historical epic films. While no direct sequels or prequels were made, the film’s success and critical acclaim paved the way for future historical epics, such as “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Gandhi”. The film continues to be appreciated for its impressive visuals, strong performances, and its exploration of a significant event in British colonial history.

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