Monday, October 19, 2015


A while back I watched the Charleton Heston/Laurence Olivier film "Khartoum" on my computer.  I don't think a BluRay or anything on a small screen would do justice to the theatrical release in Cinerama -- similar to IMAX.  Still, the story is a good one that will call for comparisons to "Lawrence of Arabia".  Heston plays General Charles Gordon sent to Khartoum in the wake of a massacre of a British-led colonial force.  The enemy, depicted by Olivier, is Muhammad Ahmad, the Mahdi, a Muslim fanatic who leads a war of religious cleansing against the Sudanese and Egyptians.

"Lawrence" is an epic film and always worth watching.  Lawrence built a legend for himself with The Seven Pillars of Wisdom which is rightfully one of the great books of the 20th Century.  The book, in particular, gives some insight into the political maneuverings that underlie much of the modern Middle East chaos.  "Khartoum", on the other hand, is less an epic than a study in the politics and personalities of the conflict at its center.  Olivier gives us at least a glimpse of the psychology of the fanatic in his portrayal of the Mahdi.

While neither film is perfectly historical -- as if there were such a thing, we can still learn from them.  If you are wondering about the mindset of the people we are fighting in the Middle East, see if you can find a copy of "Khartoum".  That is not to say it will make a viewer an expert, but it is a thought-provoking introduction to some of the issues we face today.

Gordon, while he had some heterodox beliefs, was essentially a Christian, and, back in 1966, filmmakers were less antagonistic, in general, to positive Christian characters.  The Madhi's campaign, much like that of ISIS today, was aimed largely at slaughter and terror to win the allegiance of the fearful.  Gordon understood that the killing would end only with the Mahdi's death.  He was willing to give his life to stir popular support for a war against the jihadis.  

We need to see that we are in an ideological war.  As a foundational belief system, secularism is poorly constructed, weak, and already crumbling.  It will collapse in the face of an Islamic onslaught.  Only Christianity is sufficiently complete and deeply grounded enough to prevail against, as Jesus said, "the gates of hell". 


1 comment:

  1. "Only Christianity is sufficiently complete and deeply grounded enough to prevail against, as Jesus said, "the gates of hell".

    Ain't that the truth.