Robert Stevenson – King Solomon’s Mines (1937)

The scenes in the kraal, and the dancing of the warriors, are forcefully reminiscent of an Africa that is, unfortunately, no more. For this alone, the film has real interest of a quasi-historical kind, these scenes, clearly, having been staged to a certain extent. The film also interests in how it adapts an adventure novel, in this case the novel of H. Rider Haggard, the first of the African discovery books. However, despite some genuinely enthralling cinematography of open plain, desert, mountains, a volcano, and villages, in general the film is made quite silly by some deliberate peculiarities that incite incredulity. Such as the explorer’s instantaneous command of native language in a place never before discovered, and where wagon tracks already exist. And Paul Robeson, not only in English clothes, but also as the putative chief who sings, in English, of mighty mountains too mightily often (with harmonica accompaniment in one instance, and a male choir singing European harmony in another). And the heroine who joins the wagon train on a moment’s notice, but has an endless wardrobe.

King Solomon's Mines (www.explore.bfi.org.uk)

King Solomon’s Mines (www.explore.bfi.org.uk)

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