The Ghost and the Darkness

“The Ghost and the Darkness” is a 1996 movie loosely based on the two man-eating lions that repeatedly attacked and killed railway workers in Tsavo, Kenya in 1898.  It is an interesting period piece starring Val Kilmer, whose character is based on the military engineer, J. H. Patterson.  It also stars Michael Douglas, whose character is a famous big game hunter, though not based on an historical figure.

This is an interesting movie to show or recommend to high school students, as it deals with generalizations of both the time period and today concerning Africa, British imperialism, race relations within and outside of Africa, how humans and animals interact and coexist (or don’t, as the case may be), and a little bit about how Americans are viewed out of their natural habitat.

A  viewer can thoroughly enjoy is at as an adventure story, a thriller, and even a romance.  But a viewer can also see this movie as a commentary on the harsh realities of life.  I have not read J. H. Patterson’s book The Man-Eaters of Tsavo, but I have read Jim Corbett’s Man-Eaters of Kumaon and highly recommend it in conjunction with this movie.


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