Finnegan On Films: A Connery/Caine Classic And A New Offering On Netflix

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Our movie guy, James Finnegan, picks two very different but hugely entertaining films for your viewing pleasure…

THIS week’s selection is made up of a classic film and a recent Netflix release which encourage us to revisit the past to reflect on the lessons for present.

The Man Who Would Be King (Sunday RTE One 3.20pm) is, frankly, a modern classic.  It is a typical ‘boys own’ adventure story adapted from a Rudyard Kipling story about two soldiers who set off looking for adventure and riches in 19th Century India ad beyond.

This was a project that John Huston had wanted to direct for over twenty years.  He originally had Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable in mind for the two leads.

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However, as fine as those two actors are, it is hard to imagine they would have been better than Michael Caine (Peachy) and Sean Connery (Daniel).

The latter pairs interaction and camaraderie is obviously based on their off screen friendship.

The two soldiers set off to find a distant kingdom as yet undiscovered.  There, thanks to their military training and guns, will be able to set themselves up as rulers.

They tell their plan to a rather obscure Writer named Kipling, a charming cameo by Christopher Plummer, to have a record of their ambitions.

After a series of daring dos, and random happenstance, Daniel is seen as a god by the natives, which is a rather hard act to keep up.

This is a great Sunday afternoon film.  Michael Caine and Sean Connery often said it was their favourite film, and the appearance of the recently departed acting icons Connery and Plummer give the film an additional poignancy.

Meanwhile on Netflix, The Dig is the tonal opposite in terms of story line, but is equally well acted, and based on the true events around the 1939 excavation of Sutton Hoo burial mounds.

On the eve of the Second World War, Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) hires a local, Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) to excavate the mounds on her estate.

Brown is a self-educated archaeologist, who suspects the mounds could be sites as far back as Anglo-Saxon times.  He discovers items that suggest that the site could be even more historically important.

Of course, you don’t have acting talent of this quality available without bringing in the human interactions that make the story more than just a dry recounting of the facts.

Edith does not enjoy good health and has a young son Robert, while Brown is ignoring letters from his wife.

As the importance of the site and the excavation increase due to the artefacts found, so other more prominent archaeologists want to take over.  The question as to who own the artefacts and where they go becomes more prominent and urgent.

This is a wonderful gentle film.  As one line in the story says, the importance of archaeology is not about either the past or the present, but how future generations can know who and what came before them. Enjoy and stay safe!

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