Skip to main content

The Imperialist Design of Khartoum

By: Muhsin Khalid

Part Six


"Too late!  Too late to save him,
In vain, in vain they tried.
His life was England’s glory,
His death was England’s pride" Rudyard Kipling
"A world with no room for the Gordons, is a world that will return
to the sands." The narrator in the movie


Earlier in this series, mention was made of the Mahdi fighters' plundering of an abandoned cannon in the aftermath of their battle at Kashgel with the thirst-stricken army of Hicks Pasha. Near the closing scenes of the movie, the only time we learn that they could use it properly is when they aim and hit a building, not the desperate soldiers of the besieged Gordon Pasha!
The hidden meaning here is that no matter what these fighters earn, they don’t deserve it because they are bound to misuse or abuse it. This structuring of the hidden meaning of worthlessness builds up to the moment when Gordon declines from holding his sword presented to him by his servant and takes a cane instead. 
A cane to shepherd those disastrous vandals!

Then, comes the voice of the “narrator” to formulate these visual events into articulate spoken words that tell in lamenting bitterness that the army of rescue and supplies arrived only two days later than Gordon's death. The narrator repeats “Only two days” in his unique, heavenly voice. The narrator goes on to add : “Over fifteen years the Sudanese paid the price with pestilence and famine.”
What it means to us, the narrator would say, as spectators, after we have feasted our eyes on such focused and intense shots amid and above the foray, after this visual feast on the guns 
of the Mahdi aimed at demolition and not construction, aimed against himself and not against us, civilized Westerners who built while you were rushing from the bondage of your caves, from the jungles- as Churchill's book describes- to attack and destroy the city (civility) and make its rivers of abundance taste of blood for hundreds of miles. 
Take "pestilence, plague" and "famine" in memory of Gordon, the Christ you have crucified on the tips of your barbaric spears. The reformer you have killed who had a stick in his hand with which he pointed to you the benefits of civilization and modernity. He who, voluntarily and with much blessing, refused to take the sword that would point to you the graves you deserved.
The anticipated severed head of Gordon, as mentioned earlier, seems unreachable as the camera travels along the height of a stick carried by one of the Ansars (Mahdi followers) instead, the camera settles on the bronze head of Gordon's huge statue. All the dynamic of the movie, all the music which is now another melancholic tone, is rested on the giant statue of general Gordon, did you see the game!?
The composition of this scene is such that, while viewer anticipation mounts with the upward movement of the camera, the director invests this anticipation in a totally new and lofty scene that shows the height of Gordon's statue (below). The challenge expressed here is " no matter how long your spears are they will not crop my head because I am taller than what you think!"


The height of civilization symbolized by Gordon's physical stature versus that of the Mahdi or by his unreachable statue towering over the Mahdists in the final scene recalls what I have written in my book "The Co-ordinates of Man" that 'stature is not the upward extension of the body.' On a closer watch of the scene it is as if Gordon was saying: I, the tall Gordon, in addition to having a civilized background and coming from a home nobler than yours and your pyramids, am riding a camel just like you. And what does this mean?
It means I have accepted the terms of your game and have excelled in it. I do it better than you!
-------------
The number of pyramids in ancient Nubia (aka Kush & today's Sudan) are a total of 223, (Kerma, Napata, Nuri, Naga, and Meroe). Double the number of  pyramids in its neighboring Egypt.
source

So the statue of Gordon on the back of a camel is higher than the pyramids! Higher than the Sudanese peoples, Kushites and Arabs, who gathered underneath it, appearing like ants. Even large boats sailing with high masts along the Nile, seem to look for a safe anchor under his tyranny.The authors of this film (Below Left: Ardery the script writer)* must have been afflicted by this admiration for giant statues which they have criticized at the beginning of their film, when they described statues as a mixture of "sick pride" with "false visions"!
The narrator concludes sadly that:
" Within month after Gordon died, The Mahadi died, Why? we shall never know. Gordon rest in his beloved Sudan, we cannot tell how long his memory will live, But there is this, a world with no room for the Gordons, is a world that will return to the sands".
* The American writer Robert Ardery (1908-1980 was nominated for an Oscar for his script "Khartoum". His known books: African Genesis, The Territorial Imperative, Desmond Morris' The Naked Ape.
----------------------------------
But What about Ordinary People in this Movie?














.











Buffer

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

An Entity Unknown By: Mohamed Hamad- Translated From Arabic

Text by: Mohamed HamadTranslated by: Mustafa Mudathir






There is a tiny mystery;
an entity unknown that hymenates our souls for reasons undisclosed with a plasticine of thinness a sleazy film of boredom to blunt our insistence in dealing with existence. And verily those same songs,  enchanted as they are that ornament affect, the deepest and inmost, are turned to mere phonations that tend to bore at most.
The things you sought with passion are now dispelled around you devoid of early value, or heavily under-rationed. You like it, oh! no more, the stretching on your bed Nor do you like rising and nothing is surprising.
Your cup of tea, whose edges

MovieGlobe: Japan's Version of Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet (2007) JapanOriginal Article by: Fateh Mirghani-Japan

I have just finished watching the masterpiece of Shakespeare” Romeo and Juliet “in its Japanese version.
The quality of the movie is great and the soundtrack, injected with a little Japanese folklore music, has given it a sensational dimension and Eastern fascination!
Basically, the theme of the movie remains the same as the original play, and that has been a particular Japanese notion in dealing with other nations’ cultural products. Part of the reason may lay in Japan's sensitivity to other nations’cultural products- given the long standing historical disputes with its neighbours, and part of it may lay in a fierce sense of homogeneity that has come to characterize Japan as an island nation-state since time immemorial. Thus the Japanese, unlike the Americans, don’t seem to have the temerity to ‘Japanize’ others’ cultural stuff. The movie “Renaissance man”  can be cited as an example of American boldness. The …

Thursday Evening

Short Story by Ali Elmak* Translated by MM
Getting off the tram, he slipped. Was it the right or the left foot that skidded? It did not matter!  All that mattered really, all that he cared for at that hour, at that moment, was that he fell and soiled his pants. those characteristically beautiful white pants which he had preserved for Thursday evenings; for the soiree gatherings which started by hanging around in the market; loitering for short or long periods; then to the cinema house; any film and peace be upon him. Then, was this bad luck or what? Did he really need to take the tram for such a short distance? “That was a fair reward for your laziness” he said to himself. As for those pants, they were turned into a dusty colored thing. The more he shook those tiny particles off, the closer they became attached to the pants. Oh what a gloomy evening for you!  "Is this what concerned you?" thought he.

The posters of Alan Ladd and Van Heflin still stood their, at the cinema entrance.…