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
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.