Published on October 17th, 2007 | by Chris0
Guns at Batasi (1964)
Good war movies don't necessarily have to develop out of a major war. Sometimes all it takes is a little political maneuver to provide the catalyst, even if its purely fictional. Guns at Batasi gives us a glimpse into the collapse of the worldwide British Empire, as control is handed over, somewhat awkwardly, from the British to the local government of an unnamed African nation.
Actually the movie is based on the 1962 novel, The Siege of Battersea, by Robert (or is it John?) Hollis (or Holles? Wikipedia and Amazon conflict here!)
Regardless, the story mainly follows a group of British sergeants, who have been trapped by chance in their mess hall during the messy takeover of the camp by an overzealous Lieutenant Boniface (Errol John). Meanwhile they're hosting a member of parliament (Flora Robson) while the former camp CO (Jack Hawkins) is away.
They've got to hold their ground in the most English of ways against this new tyrant, and the men have to deal with their "by the book" Sgt. Major Lauderdale (Richard Attenborough), and a rogue Private Wilkes (John Leyton) and his wayward companion and interest, the UN secretary Ms. Wise (Mia Farrow).
In the process of harboring the interim camp commander, Capt. Abraham (Earl Cameron) they're given an ultimatum, deliver the Capt. to be "tried" for treason or face destruction. They choose to fight back, and do so successfully.
Unfortunately for Lauderdale his actions bring shame to his career and his family tradition, and himself, as he's forced to leave the country immediately or face the government for his "crimes."
Ultimately its a sobering look into the politics and helplessness of situations like this. Really I can't describe any more than that. It may sound like a boring exercise, but really it works quite well. There really isn't a lot of military action to speak of, except for the very end, but the tension and chemistry between all the characters, along with the superb acting and writing really make for an excellent film. After all that's more of what this is about, the plight of the trapped sergeants and their company. The rest of it is window dressing.
Guns at Batasi might on the surface seem like just another ho-hum British war movie (believe me I've seen a few of 'em) but I recommend checking it out, you'll probably be as surprised as I was.
Guns At Batasi '64
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Two-time Oscar® winner Richard Attenborough (1982 Best Director and Best Picture, Ghandi) stars as a dedicated British soldier caught in the midst of a revolution in Africa in this compelling war drama...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Manufacturer: 20th Century Fox
Original Release Date:
- Richard Attenborough
- Jack Hawkins
- Flora Robson
- John Leyton
- Mia Farrow
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
RSM on Parade, Sir!,
This review is from: Guns At Batasi '64 (DVD)This excellent film is a rediscovered jem. Attenborough is first rate as the stiff upper-lipped RSM. He was your typical British senior warrent officer who basically held the battalion together. An empire was built by such men and their spit and polish manner. The movie concerns itself with a post-colonial African nation, under-going the usual tumult for that time and place. The RSM and the Sarjeant's Mess of the 2nd Royal African Rifles get mixed up in a political coup d'etat. There is some fine acting by Richard Attenborough who really personifies the British RSM type for that day. This is not a war firm per se. The overtones are military for sure, but the story really concerns itself with clashing personalities. In this respect it resembles some other very good British films of the period that probe post war feelings and attitudes in the arm. TUNES OF GLORY comes to mind as another fine example of this genre of British film.
There is some racial tension between... Read more
Trouble in Africa,
This review is from: Guns At Batasi '64 (DVD)
This movie is about a British Army Training Team based in a African Country in the early 1960's. The country in question is a former British Colony and the British Army is there to assist in training and forming an army for this new country. A coup takes place at the start of move, with government being over thrown by rebel soldiers. The British Army Training Team are told to stay in their barracks and not get involved, but they don't.... The uniforms, weapons, props etc are very authentic for the period and the acting is very good. This is a classic movie and well worth looking at!!
This review is from: Guns At Batasi '64 (DVD)
The commentary is worth the price of admission......So good! The film is a classic and I, for one would indeed give Dame Flora a very long and loving roll in the hay....She is a Dolly Bird.as Graham so well put it, and a queen of the making faces and shouting world (acting)......Juliet, are you listening?
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Summary: Guns at Batasi might on the surface seem like just another ho-hum British war movie (believe me I've seen a few of 'em) but I recommend checking it out, you'll probably be as surprised as I was.