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Parents' Guide to

The Ghost and the Darkness

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Lions terrorize bridge-building crew; gore and violence.

Movie R 1996 110 minutes
The Ghost and the Darkness Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 16+

Great movie, love the history!

Common Sense definitely did not do their homework in this one! This movie is based on a true story, so bringing in the white hunter is based on actual fact, and not some controversial racially motivated nonsense that we need to dissect. It’s what actually happened, because the behavior of the lions was so out of character that the natives didn’t know what to do. This is a great movie to watch with your older teenagers, and enjoy the history. Then check out the actual stuffed lions at the museum in Chicago!
1 person found this helpful.
age 14+

Looks like commonsense didn’t watch the movie

Ok first of all it’s non a fiction drama, this is based on something that actually happened which makes most of the descriptions wrong. They didn’t ‘portray’ white people saving Africans, white people actually did go there and do it. The actual lions are stuffed and in Chicago on exhibit. Great movie, better if you’re going to teach the history . Greee as t messages when they talk about bridges bringing people of different ethnic backgrounds together.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (1 ):

This is a drearily conventional film. Director Stephen Hopkins himself said in a 1998 interview that The Ghost and The Darkness "was a mess ... I haven't been able to watch it." Worse yet, it promotes old racist and imperialistic assumptions about the competence and superiority of foreign White people over the wisdom and ability of local peoples familiar with their own terrain and problems. (Two notable exceptions are characters played by John Kani and Om Puri.)

If you can get past that premise, Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer give serviceable performances, but the narrative does little more than repeat the same problem -- how to defeat attacking lions -- over and over. It feels odd that White hunters are called in to kill an animal that natives are probably far more familiar with, but high-powered rifles will probably be more effective than spears and hand-to-claw combat. Any time a lion is shot, heroic music wells up to trigger our admiration for the great hunters. Vilmos Zsigmond's cinematography is lush and haunting.

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