British Empire Article

Mister Johnson

British East Africa, 1923. Harry Rudbeck, an ambitious army officer, wants to build a road to bring the outside world to the backwater town where he is posted. Struggling to find ways around Foreign Service bureaucracy, he relies on his resourceful African clerk, Mr. Johnson. But when Johnson's can-do attitude runs afoul of British law, Rudbeck must make a painful decision. The film is deliberately paced, and the topnotch cinematography, art direction, and soundtrack all conspire to immerse you into the sweltering heat of East Africa. Maynard Eziashi gives winning performance as Johnson, a man so intent on becoming important that it destroys him. Like many of director Bruce Beresford's movies, Mister Johnson is a clear-eyed look at the way a collision of two cultures can lead to tragedy. Rudbeck must ultimately face the fact that his own ambition leads to the death of his friend, and Pierce Brosnan (as Rudbeck) and Beresford refuse to sentimentalise the man at all. Among Beresford's films, this is much closer in tone to Breaker Morant than to the kinder, gentler Driving Miss Daisy. Image courtesy of Amazon

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by Stephen