The Imperialist Design of Khartoum
Article By Muhsin Khalid
In this twenty-first century, we do not feel sorry that the colonially-minded British men had invaded, on orders from their queen, the security and peace of some peoples. We might find excuses for such acts based on historical circumstances. But we will feel sorry, in this vast future, in this new century that another British man wants to defend his past colonial fellow countrymen.There exist until now those who are able to glorify imperialist arrogance through films and other means because colonialism has only changed its face and has not yet exited from the face of the earth. The matter is not over yet with the Americans still in Somalia and Afghanistan.
The Israeli political machine, a product of this colonial culture, still occupies Palestine and parts of Lebanon and Syria! There must be such films, such incitement through a false history of colonialism that reiterates: Muslims kill children, the elderly and women, just the same way they fabricated words for the Mahdi to say from their lie-generating structures.
Let us quote what is purported to have been said by the fictitious personality of the Mahdi in the film and contemplate the extent of its savagery and meanness and how wickedly distorted it is. These are words that cannot be uttered even by a vampire, let alone a person who claims to be the 'rightly-guided , the redeemer by compassion’
Let us dwell in these words and then I will return to it at my earliest ease to touch the edges of its sharp blades. I hope you will be able to hear it in the film and watch how the actor's eyes, crazy and unequivocally evil as they are, seem to enjoy the sarcasm conveyed through them.Here is what the Mahdi (the redeemer, the rightly-guided) had to say to Gordon:
"Egypt opposes me, and so, the Egyptians must remain in Khartoum, for I shall take it in blood, and the street will run in blood, and the Nile will taste of blood for a hundred miles, and every Egyptian will die, every child, woman, man. Sudanese too, who opposes the will of my lord Mohammad will die. This is how it must be in Khartoum, great and terrible thing!"
The highest dramatic peak in this quote is condensed in its last phrase (great and terrible thing!) It is this personality hired for the Mahdi in the movie that says this. It is as if a Ghoul is telling us (I am going to eat you all (followed by a horrible laughter) This last phrase is not just evil. It enjoys evil beyond its palates, in its deepest depths and is apt to digest it for evil to it is the bread and joy of this fierce life.
The scene that is gross to the point it outruns, by miles, the wildest of fun, is when the innovative imagination arranges for Gordon to meet the Mahdi not in one but two legendary times. Their second meeting has some hellish details. In the window far behind gordon, undulates the light from candle fire. Then the Mahdi moves to a spot that is dimly lighted. The background for him is darker now. In the meantime a new source of faint light reflects several times on Gordon's back. When the two men face each other, the left profile of Gordon's face becomes faintly illuminated and remains so throughout the rest of the scene.
The left side of the Mahdi's face, who we see his back now, remains in the dark as a rough perspective with his hoarse voice uttering evil threats. Here takes place what I call the 'Rainbow Effect'!Haven't you noticed how the sky dome becomes so caring and compassionate in its effect on your spirit when it is 'wet' by droplets of rain that it generates the colors of the rainbow?
Thus stays the face of Gordon suspended in the expanse of the scene like a rainbow. Resembling those great icons of art on the majestic walls of churches of the good men of Christianity.
And the Mahdi is awarded another medal from the devilish darkness of the western mentality in addition to previous medals for his dark skin and for the substance of evil threats he, unseizingly, utters.
This visual prelude is meant to precede his removal of the cover from a jar that is dripping of blood in the middle of his guest room . He then pulls out a severed human head and asks Gordon gloatingly and in a way that only comes from a self that has its evil soaring in the highest of levels. Higher than the status of meanness and baseness. "Is this not the English man Frank Power?" Then he closes the jar with a sackcloth cover and opens another one. He pulls another human head and asks Gordon again "Is this not the French man?"
The meeting that never took place: The Mahdi and Gordon Pasha
This overly myth-comedy does not end here. Far from that. The Mahdi opens a third jar and sifts out a severed human arm. The music rises on the background, impassioned by a devastating sense of anguish, as though to lament the total human destiny at the hands of this beast. Yes, because there will be grief overflowing the fates of people living in Sudan. They will, basically, all perish at the hands of this arrogant tyrant.
A truly fantastic scene in which the events are sequenced and mystified just like in the Mirabilia (roughly the study of marvels and miracles) and the stories of man-eater mythical creatures of the past.
Before the scene is totally drowned in organized bias by showing us the faces of the two men and focusing on what they registered as a result of their dialogue, in that very moment when the Mahdi hands to Gordon the severed arm, before he is done showing Gordon the contents of his limb museum, the accompanying music reaches a peak and starts throwing its curses on the monster by muting the wind instruments except at the end of each section to amplify the sense of the hideous while the stringed instruments continue their control on the ears with their sounds sharp and piercing as treachery from the the dagger of the Mahdi- the murderer of messengers and postmen who, according to covenant and custom, are not to be killed in all places and all ages.
Immediately after this moment the two faces rise to be seen by the audience. The focus now is on the faces in order for the spectator to reach final conclusions read directly from them.
Gordon's face, the icon of those great and noble cathedrals, is still luminous, hovers in the space of the scene. Rainbowed this time by a real rain from his caring and compassionate tears and not just by the human lightness and moisture of skin as before. There is this slight shade on it of being moved,
of feeling great pity for the human destinies of which the Mahdi has filled his jars and will fill the streets of Khartoum until the Nile sweeps corpses, not soil.
In the meantime, we see the Mahdi as solidified in his stillness, with a face of a statue. The demon of darkness in Western mythology. Like those proud "crocodiles of statues" lying in the water of the Nile as one recalls the narrator at the beginning of the film.
Then take this! This is the Mahdi. A face that does not stare but destroys by a look as straight as a flashing nail. A look that is piercing and penetrating, being driven by the focused Ghoul whose eyes have stilled in their sockets until they became the eyes of a predator, not a human-being.
End of Part Two
Author: Muhsin Khalid