Six Damn Fine Degrees #6: The Ghost and the Darkness

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness.

My beloved and me got tired of the cold winter days and dark December nights and fled to Kenya. We got what we wanted: the ocean, a warm, healthy climate, and all the excursions and outings we could handle. On one safari, we took a break at some farm and were invited by the employees to have a seat on some benches. I thought that we would be told about the flora and fauna, but no such luck. We realized that we were sitting in front of a TV screen, we heard a generated cough into life, the set started to flicker and display some logo, and we gathered with some astonishment that now was movie time.

The movie was Stephen Hopkins’ The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), and we eventually realized that the people screening the movie for us were beaming with pride because they said it got shot right there where we were sitting. The landscape is beautiful, I can admit that first-hand, but the movie, my dears, I cannot recommend it. And my beloved and I had to sit there and nod at the small screen, where all the colors had inexplicably shifted to red, not a color typically associated by the Kenyan countryside, and the sound of Jerry Goldsmith’s score was drowned out by the asthmatic rumbling of the generator.

It wasn’t Michael Douglas’ overt machismo or Val Kilmer’s bad accent that put me off that movie forever. It was the fact that I had to sit through a bad movie that seemed to have lost all that was good from a William Goldman screenplay instead of having a look at the scenery, being guided through the savannah by a local expert. Instead, a genny made my ears ache, and the skewered color palette hurt my eyes.

And I later found out that the movie was not shot in Kenya, but in South Africa, for tax reasons. We sat through it, my beloved and I, too humble to get up, but there is a movie I cannot ever, ever see again.

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