Mountains of the Moon


2h 15m 1990
Mountains of the Moon

Brief Synopsis

Two noted British explorers become rivals in the quest to find the source of the Nile.

Film Details

Also Known As
Aux sources du Nil, Collines de la lune, Les Collines de la lune
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Adventure
Biography
Historical
Release Date
1990
Production Company
Bloomfilm; Carolco Pictures Inc; Carolco Pictures Inc; Cinema Research Corporation; D Bassett & Associates Inc; Dda Public Relations; Joe Dunton & Company International, Inc.; Pacific Title & Art Studio; Technicolor; The Saul Zaentz Film Center
Distribution Company
TriStar Pictures; Finnkino Oy; Guild Films Distribution; Live Home Video; Penta Distribuzione; Rtl Group; Showtime Networks; Sony Pictures Releasing International; Toho-Towa Company; Tristar Pictures
Location
Lake Victoria, Kenya; Lamu Island, Kenya; Liverpool, England, United Kingdom; London, England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 15m

Synopsis

Based on the adventures of explorers Sir Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke during their 19th Century African expedition to discover the source of the Nile.

Crew

Sophia Ali Abdi

Wardrobe Assistant (Kenya)

Alan Adams

Props Storekeeper

John Addison

Carpenter

Omer Ahmed

Electrician (Kenya)

Noor Ali

Location Assistant (Kenya)

Steve Allaway

Carpenter Supervisor

Barbara Allen

Unit Production Manager

Christopher Amasa

Production Assistant

Ted Ambrose

Other

C J Appel

Adr Supervisor

Annelise Archer

Props Buyer (Kenya)

Martin Asbury

Storyboard Artist

Alan Ashby

Other

Mohammed Athman

Electrician (Kenya)

Chester Ayres

Laboratory Contact

Ray Barrett

Construction Manager

Craig Barwick

Accountant Assistant

Jenny Beavan

Costume Designer

Mark Berger

Sound Rerecording

Chrissie Beveridge

Makeup Supervisor

Gordon Billings

Props

Sean Bird

Other

Todd Boekelheide

Sound Rerecording Mixer

John Bright

Costume Designer

John Bright

Costume Designer

Viv Bristow

Trainer

Viv Bristow

Animal Coordinator (Lion) (Kenya)

Richard Broom

Grip

David Bryant

Other

David Bubb

Carpenter Supervisor

Richard Francis Burton

Other

Neil Carar

Other

Steve Challenor

Carpenter (Standby)

John Chavanga

Assistant 2nd Unit Director (2nd Unit) (Kenya)

David Chiganze

Grip

Raymond Churchouse

Plasterer Assistant

John Clark

Electrician

Stephanie Clark

Other

Robert Clarke

Supervisor

Patrick Clayton

1st Assistant Director

Suzanne Clegg

Production Assistant

Terence A Clegg

Executive In Charge Of Production

Ray Coates

Generator Operator

Luis Colina

Sound Editor

Frank Connor

Stills

Harry Cordwell

Set Decorator

Con Cremins

Location Accountant (Kenya)

Hazel Crombie

Production Accountant Deputy

Kenny Crouch

Wardrobe Supervisor

Chris Curling

Associate Producer

Ben Davis

Other

Robin Davis

Wrangler (Kenya)

Kevin De La Noy

Location Manager

Jo Deakin

Publicist (Carolco)

Roger Deakins

Camera Operator

Roger Deakins

Director Of Photography

Christopher Dedrick

Original Music

Noori Dehnahi

Post-Production Coordinator

Patsy Delord

Production Coordinator

Jack Dyer

Chargehand Stagehand (Standby)

Kevin Edland

Bestboy Gaffer

Belinda Edwards

Production Buyer

Karen Edwards

Hairstyles

Paul Englefield

Focus Puller 2nd Unit (2nd Unit)

Frank Eulner

Sound Editor Assistant

Tina Fallani

Sound Editor Assistant

David Fanshawe

Song Performer ("Kawamba Dance" "Wagogo Soothing Song" "Wagogo Marriage Ritual")

Eleanor Fazan

Choreography

Vic Floyd

Unit Driver

Maurice Fowler

Art Direction

Celestia Fox

Casting Director

Michael Gardner

Other

Susan Gitau

Accountant Assistant (Kenya)

Bob Goome

Generator Operator

Gavin Gordon

Carpenter

Terence Grange

Other

Marjorie Hagar

Sound Editor Assistant

Taffy Haines

Sound Maintenance Engineer

Peter Hancock

Property Master

Bob Harper

Other

David Harris

Special Effects Supervisor

Kevin Harris

Construction Manager Assistant

Sally Harrison

Makeup Assistant

William Harrison

Screenwriter

William Harrison

Source Material (From Novel)

Brian Hartnoll

Supervisor

Jens Hessel

Construction (Turkana) (Kenya)

Vicki Hiatt

Assistant Editor

John Higgins

Gaffer

Joan Hills

Makeup Assistant

James Hinga

3rd Assistant Director (Kenya)

Zacky Hinga

Other

Fred Hole

Art Direction

Arthur Holland

Chargehand Carpenter

Robin Hollister

Location Coordinator (Kenya)

Frank Howe

Other

John Howitt

Other

Brian Humphrey

Chargehand Dressing Props

Errol James

Unit Driver

Gregory James

Other

Ibrahim Jibril

Grip (Kenya)

Lisa M Johnson

Wardrobe Mistress

Alf Joint

Stunt Coordinator

Lyman Jones

Other

Dave Jordan

Chargehand Dressing Props

George Kamau

Electrician (Kenya)

Philip Kamau

Production Driver (Kenya)

Ogo Kanjora

Chargehand Driver (Kenya)

Christopher Kariuki

Wardrobe Assistant (Kenya)

Mario Kassar

Executive Producer

Simon Kaye

Sound Mixer

Beverley Keogh

Casting (Liverpool)

George King

Carpenter

Patrick Kinney

Assistant 2nd Unit Director (2nd Unit) (Kenya)

David Knowles

Other

Ann Kroeber

Sound Editor

Jeffrey Kroeber

Sound Editor Assistant

Matt Langley

Carpenter

Steve Langley

Electrician

Nick Laws

2nd Assistant Director

Annabel Lee

Production Assistant

Annabel Lee

Art Department Assistant

Gerry Levy

Unit Production Manager (Kenya)

Tim Lewis

2nd Assistant Director

Lee Electric Lighting

Lighting Equipment

Joseph Lio

Production Manager Assistant (Kenya)

Ray Lovell

Senior Special Effects Technician

Gwendolyn Margetson

Other

Robert Marty

Sound Editor Assistant

Konga Mbandu

3rd Assistant Director (Kenya)

Herman Mbugua

Cashier (Kenya)

Philip Mcdonald

Property Master (Location)

Stephen Mcdonald

Props

Jonathan Mckinstry

Art Direction Assistant

Daniel Melnick

Producer

Dave Midson

Chargehand Dressing Props

Arnie Mitchell

Transportation Coordinator (Kenya)

Stuart Monteith

Electrician

John Moore

Props

Terry Muligan

Electrician

Simon Murray

Wardrobe Assistant

Bill Mwangola

Art Department Assistant

Angela Noakes

Script Supervisor

Thom Noble

Editor

Mel Nortcliffe

Production Assistant

John Nutt

Sound Editor

Patrick O'loughnane

Carpenter

Eddie O'neill

Carpenter

Ann Olivecrona

Animal Coordinator (Kenya)

David Parker

Sound Rerecording Mixer

Chris Paton

Publicist (Carolco)

Diana Pellegrini

Sound Editor

Nick Penn

Other

Chris Peppe

Assistant Editor

Richard Peppiett

Other

Jenny Pont

Other

Dick Pope

Additional Photography

Mickey Pugh

Props Supervisor (Standby)

Bob Rafelson

Screenwriter

Ramadhan Rajab

Electrician (Kenya)

Robert Raring

Color Timer

Norman Reynolds

Production Designer

Mirella Ricciardi

Stills

Kenneth Richards

Other

Curtis Roush

Music Editor

Tim Rowson

Sketch Artist (Kenya)

Peter Russell

Art Direction Assistant

Nick Russo

Carpenter

Elizabeth Ryrie

Costume Coordinator (African) (Kenya)

Chris Seddon

Other

Paul Shersby

Unit Production Manager

Michael Silvers

Sound Editor

Edward Sinclair

Carpenter

Davis Sindiyo

Other

Michael Sloan

Post-Production Supervisor

Michael Small

Music

Arthur Ray Smith

Supervisor

Pilar Sneddon

Assistant (To Bob Rafelson)

John Hanning Speke

Other

Alan Splet

Sound Editor Supervisor

Tommy Staples

Boom Operator

Janet Stevens

Modeler

Scott Stevenson

Assistant Editor

Joanna Stutchbury

Props Buyer (Kenya)

Emma Style

Casting Assistant

Paul Tappin

Supervisor

David Tobitt

Unit Driver

John Trehy

Production Accountant

Andrew Vajna

Executive Producer

John Verbeck

Sound Editor

Oreste Wafula

Grip (Kenya)

David Watkins

Senior Special Effects Technician

Paul Wescott

Other

Kevin Wheeler

Chargehand Dressing Props

Derek Whorlow

Carpenter

Geoff Wiles

Other

Nikki Williams

Other

Julia Wilson

Makeup Assistant

Julia Wilson

Hairstyles Assistant

Beverley Winston

Other

Film Details

Also Known As
Aux sources du Nil, Collines de la lune, Les Collines de la lune
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Adventure
Biography
Historical
Release Date
1990
Production Company
Bloomfilm; Carolco Pictures Inc; Carolco Pictures Inc; Cinema Research Corporation; D Bassett & Associates Inc; Dda Public Relations; Joe Dunton & Company International, Inc.; Pacific Title & Art Studio; Technicolor; The Saul Zaentz Film Center
Distribution Company
TriStar Pictures; Finnkino Oy; Guild Films Distribution; Live Home Video; Penta Distribuzione; Rtl Group; Showtime Networks; Sony Pictures Releasing International; Toho-Towa Company; Tristar Pictures
Location
Lake Victoria, Kenya; Lamu Island, Kenya; Liverpool, England, United Kingdom; London, England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 15m

Articles

Mountains of the Moon


Although it didn't make much of a splash commercially at the time of its release, this historical epic, a dream project for director Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces, 1970), received high praise from critics. Rolling Stone's Peter Travers touted its "rousing thrills, startling beauty and searching performances" while noting the aptness of its prevailing "meditative, sorrowful" tone. Roger Ebert found its sober intelligence "completely absorbing," and Rita Kempley in the Washington Post called it "an epic worth discovering." So, if you haven't yet, here's your chance.

Rafelson collaborated with William Harrison to adapt Harrison's novel Burton and Speke for the screen. The book was published in 1982, but reportedly since the 1960s Rafelson had been interested in the true story it was based on, the 1857 expedition undertaken by famed Victorian explorer Richard Burton and aristocratic amateur John Hanning Speke to find the long-sought source of the Nile River. Mountains of the Moon refers to legendary topography falsely mapped by cartographers for centuries as the region where the Nile started. It wasn't until Burton and Speke's journey that the actual location was discovered.

From this background, Rafelson and Harrison fashioned a tale that gives as much weight to drama of the relationship between the two men as to the stunning scenery through which they move. The two men had vastly different personalities, at least in Harrison's original conception of the characters, with Speke seen as bigoted and repressed, stupid and incompetent in his partner's eyes, and Burton portrayed as more interested in hanging with the natives than the task at hand. According to some sources, dramatic liberties were taken in the depiction of each man's nature (and Rafelson was criticized for suggesting Speke's latent homosexuality was the cause of his uptight bearing), but the story sticks fairly closely to the events that brought these two explorers together, their tentative friendship dissolving into animosity over their clashing personalities and finally bitter rivalry when Speke, venturing out alone while Burton suffered from malaria, took full credit for discovering the Nile's source in Lake Victoria.

Dublin-born actor Patrick Bergin, best known to American audiences as Robin Hood (1991) and as Julia Roberts' menacing husband in Sleeping with the Enemy (1991), had his first major feature role as Burton. Iain Glen (Gorillas in the Mist, 1988; Jorah Mormont in the TV series Game of Thrones) won the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor for his work here and in two other films from the same year. Other familiar faces in the cast include Richard E. Grant (Withnail & I, 1987; the TV series Girls), Fiona Shaw (My Left Foot, 1989; Harry Potter's Aunt Petunia in several entries in that film series), and Delroy Lindo (Malcolm X, 1992; Gone in Sixty Seconds, 2000).

The film was shot by Roger Deakins, one of the most respected cinematographers in the industry and a ten-time Academy Award nominee for such films as Fargo (1996), No Country for Old Men (2007)--two of the 11 films he's made with the Coen brothers--and Prisoners (2013). The picture was shot on location in Kenya and England.

In real life, Burton and Speke were rather colorful characters. Burton had a keen interest in sexuality, particularly as practiced by the various tribes and people he encountered on his explorations. He formed the Kama Shastra Society as a way to publish explicit material then banned by Great Britain's Obscene Publications Act of 1857, among them The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (commonly called The Arabian Nights) and a translation of the Kama Sutra, an ancient Hindu text on sexual practices. Speke, known for propounding the theory that certain Africans were descended from Ham, the "cursed" son of Noah, died of a gunshot wound the day before he and Burton were to have publicly debated Speke's claim that he had discovered the Nile source. The death was officially ruled an accident and long considered a suicide, but many have doubted that conclusion.

Mountains of the Moon was a marked departure from Rafelson's usual subject matter, focusing on far less epic, intimate contemporary stories, although his attention to the personal connection between the two men mirrors his relationship-centered dramas such as The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) and Blood and Wine (1996).

Director: Bob Rafelson
Producer: Daniel Melnick
Screenplay: William Harrison, Bob Rafelson, based on Harrison's book Burton and Speke
Cinematography: Roger Deakins
Editing: Thom Noble
Art Direction: Maurice Fowler, Fred Hole
Original Music: Michael Small
Cast: Patrick Bergin (Burton), Iain Glen (Speke), Fiona Shaw (Isabel), Richard E. Grant (Larry Oliphant), Delroy Lindo (Mabruki)

By Rob Nixon

Read more about Bob Rafelson's life and career:

Roger Ebert's 4-star review of Mountains of the Moon (1990), airing on TCM on October 17, 2014

Peter Tonguette, "Bob Rafelson and His Odd American Places"
Mountains Of The Moon

Mountains of the Moon

Although it didn't make much of a splash commercially at the time of its release, this historical epic, a dream project for director Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces, 1970), received high praise from critics. Rolling Stone's Peter Travers touted its "rousing thrills, startling beauty and searching performances" while noting the aptness of its prevailing "meditative, sorrowful" tone. Roger Ebert found its sober intelligence "completely absorbing," and Rita Kempley in the Washington Post called it "an epic worth discovering." So, if you haven't yet, here's your chance. Rafelson collaborated with William Harrison to adapt Harrison's novel Burton and Speke for the screen. The book was published in 1982, but reportedly since the 1960s Rafelson had been interested in the true story it was based on, the 1857 expedition undertaken by famed Victorian explorer Richard Burton and aristocratic amateur John Hanning Speke to find the long-sought source of the Nile River. Mountains of the Moon refers to legendary topography falsely mapped by cartographers for centuries as the region where the Nile started. It wasn't until Burton and Speke's journey that the actual location was discovered. From this background, Rafelson and Harrison fashioned a tale that gives as much weight to drama of the relationship between the two men as to the stunning scenery through which they move. The two men had vastly different personalities, at least in Harrison's original conception of the characters, with Speke seen as bigoted and repressed, stupid and incompetent in his partner's eyes, and Burton portrayed as more interested in hanging with the natives than the task at hand. According to some sources, dramatic liberties were taken in the depiction of each man's nature (and Rafelson was criticized for suggesting Speke's latent homosexuality was the cause of his uptight bearing), but the story sticks fairly closely to the events that brought these two explorers together, their tentative friendship dissolving into animosity over their clashing personalities and finally bitter rivalry when Speke, venturing out alone while Burton suffered from malaria, took full credit for discovering the Nile's source in Lake Victoria. Dublin-born actor Patrick Bergin, best known to American audiences as Robin Hood (1991) and as Julia Roberts' menacing husband in Sleeping with the Enemy (1991), had his first major feature role as Burton. Iain Glen (Gorillas in the Mist, 1988; Jorah Mormont in the TV series Game of Thrones) won the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor for his work here and in two other films from the same year. Other familiar faces in the cast include Richard E. Grant (Withnail & I, 1987; the TV series Girls), Fiona Shaw (My Left Foot, 1989; Harry Potter's Aunt Petunia in several entries in that film series), and Delroy Lindo (Malcolm X, 1992; Gone in Sixty Seconds, 2000). The film was shot by Roger Deakins, one of the most respected cinematographers in the industry and a ten-time Academy Award nominee for such films as Fargo (1996), No Country for Old Men (2007)--two of the 11 films he's made with the Coen brothers--and Prisoners (2013). The picture was shot on location in Kenya and England. In real life, Burton and Speke were rather colorful characters. Burton had a keen interest in sexuality, particularly as practiced by the various tribes and people he encountered on his explorations. He formed the Kama Shastra Society as a way to publish explicit material then banned by Great Britain's Obscene Publications Act of 1857, among them The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (commonly called The Arabian Nights) and a translation of the Kama Sutra, an ancient Hindu text on sexual practices. Speke, known for propounding the theory that certain Africans were descended from Ham, the "cursed" son of Noah, died of a gunshot wound the day before he and Burton were to have publicly debated Speke's claim that he had discovered the Nile source. The death was officially ruled an accident and long considered a suicide, but many have doubted that conclusion. Mountains of the Moon was a marked departure from Rafelson's usual subject matter, focusing on far less epic, intimate contemporary stories, although his attention to the personal connection between the two men mirrors his relationship-centered dramas such as The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) and Blood and Wine (1996). Director: Bob Rafelson Producer: Daniel Melnick Screenplay: William Harrison, Bob Rafelson, based on Harrison's book Burton and Speke Cinematography: Roger Deakins Editing: Thom Noble Art Direction: Maurice Fowler, Fred Hole Original Music: Michael Small Cast: Patrick Bergin (Burton), Iain Glen (Speke), Fiona Shaw (Isabel), Richard E. Grant (Larry Oliphant), Delroy Lindo (Mabruki) By Rob Nixon Read more about Bob Rafelson's life and career: Roger Ebert's 4-star review of Mountains of the Moon (1990), airing on TCM on October 17, 2014 Peter Tonguette, "Bob Rafelson and His Odd American Places"

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States July 1990

Released in United States on Video August 30, 1990

Released in United States Winter February 23, 1990

Wide Release in United States March 9, 1990

Shown at Taormina Film Festival, Italy July 20-29, 1990.

Began shooting September 19, 1988.

Completed shooting January 13, 1989.

Released in United States Winter February 23, 1990

Wide Release in United States March 9, 1990

Released in United States July 1990 (Shown at Taormina Film Festival, Italy July 20-29, 1990.)

Released in United States on Video August 30, 1990