I was very sad to hear of the passing of a great actor and a true favourite of mine, Simon Ward, who died after a long illness at the age of 70.
As Ward appeared in a few films / plays worthy of mention up in a 'Colonial Africa' blog I thought it seemed appropriate.
First up is "Young Winston" -
Young Winston is a 1972 British film based on the early years of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
The film was based on the book My Early Life: A Roving Commission by Winston Churchill. The first part of the film covers Churchill's unhappy schooldays, up to the death of his father. The second half covers his service as a cavalry officer in India and the Sudan, during which he takes part in the cavalry charge at Omdurman, his experiences as a war correspondent in the Second Boer War, during which he is captured and escapes, and his election to Parliament at the age of 26.
Churchill was played by Simon Ward, who was relatively unknown at the time but was supported by a distinguished cast including; Robert Shaw (as Lord Randolph Churchill), John Mills (as Lord Kitchener), Anthony Hopkins (as David Lloyd George) and Anne Bancroft as Churchill's mother Jennie. Other actors included Patrick Magee, Robert Hardy, Ian Holm, Edward Woodward and Jack Hawkins.
The film was written and produced by Carl Foreman and directed by Richard Attenborough. It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction (Donald M. Ashton, Geoffrey Drake, John Graysmark, William Hutchinson, Peter James) and Best Costume Design
"The Four Feathers" -
The Four Feathers is a 1977 British television film adaptation of the classic novel The Four Feathers by novelist A.E.W. Mason. Directed by Don Sharp, this version starred Beau Bridges, Robert Powell,Simon Ward and Jane Seymour, and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. It follows the novel almost exactly, and response to the film was very positive.
Lieutenant Harry Faversham (Beau Bridges) realises his regiment is being deployed to the Sudan where they would see combat. He promptly resigns his officer's commission, stating that he did not wish to leave his fiancé, Ethne (Seymour). In reality, he was questioning the cause, and was fearful of seeing combat. Following his resignation, his fiancé and three friends present him with white feathers, representing cowardice, and turn their backs on him. Following his regiments deployment, Faversham realizes he has made a grave mistake, and that he will never be able to live any quality of life unless his honour is restored.
Disguising himself as an Arab, Faversham makes his way to Sudan determined to find his unit. He learns of an impending attack on the regiment, and tries to make it in time to save them. During the battle, his closest friend Captain Jack Durrance (Powell) becomes engaged in close combat, during which he is blinded when a black powder rifle goes off next to his face. Faversham attacks the Arabs who surround Durrance, and rescues him as he staggers blindly. In the end, Faversham is able to help his regiment, and redeem his honour.
"The Rear Column" -
The Rear Column is a play by Simon Gray set in the jungle of the Congo Free State in 1887-88. The story begins after explorer Henry Morton Stanley, has gone to relieve Emin Pasha, governor of Equatoria, from a siege by Mahdist forces. He leaves behind him a 'rear column' with supplies at the Yambuya camp on the Aruwimi River and instructs them to wait until the Arab slave trader, Tippu Tib, has brought 600 more porters before following on to Equatoria. The play follows the story of the men left waiting in the camp. The officers depicted in the play are based on historical figures.
The play was first produced in London's West End in 1978 at the Globe Theatre in London, now known as the Gielgud Theatre.
Finally, the cherry on the cake...
"Zulu Dawn" -
Zulu Dawn, a 1979 film is about the historical Battle of Isandlwana between British and Zulu forces in 1879 in South Africa. The screenplay was by Cy Endfield, from his book, and Anthony Story. The film was directed by Douglas Hickox. The score was composed by Elmer Bernstein.
This was the my first introduction to the Anglo-Zulu war and film that remains with me an all time favourite. Okay, so it may not be the most historically accurate but what films are!
Read the Guardian Obituary.