A white savior/colonialist film with horrifically inconsistent characterization, sneering (distasteful) antipathy to African culture – while reaping location, & screenplay weak as wet tissue paper wasting_fine_natural_cinematography._3/10
A rescue party sets out to find an explorer who has disappeared on an African treasure hunt. The search leads the party across the continent and through the terrors of jungle, swamp and desert. Their ultimate destination is the fabled lost mine of Solomon, a source of unimaginable wealth and deadly danger. From H. Rider Haggard’s novel.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Review: The colonialists are coming! The colonialists are coming! *Gasp* Oh no, it’s another white savior film – this one complete with horrifically inconsistent characterization and a screenplay as weak and soggy as wet tissue paper! I usually don’t make big deals about social justice topics in cinema forgiving light trespasses as a different time and rules, but this film actually pained me to watch at how heavy-handed and insouciant the filmmakers of this (shockingly-mostly-celebrated – likely by whites only – and even franchised) bastard creation were.
The plot is simple enough with a potentially-nice concept: a trek through stunning primordial to King Solomon’s Mines in search of a lost explorer (and perhaps a little legendary treasure as well.) On visuals, it wholly delivers with (for-the-time) impressive cinematography and color-filled shots of African villages & natives important in transporting early 50’s America to places they never would have seen in such realism before. The acting is decent too and animal shots majestic reading almost like a nature film in how well it captures the beauty of the African continent across its brisk-but-slightly-overelongated 100 minutes.
Where the problem lies is the screenplay and absolutely awful execution with (overt) racist undertones and senseless violence in its thin plotting. From KSM’s imbecilic opening scene of hunting innocent, still-standing elephants for fun as game (while also making them look like they’re suffering/dying painfully for added.. entertainment?), the film comes off extremely white colonialist/savior with a disdain for the African natives and cultures its shooting and reaping location shots from with descriptions like “senseless” and “silly rituals” and inherently nonsensical with a screenplay as contrived and weak as wet tissue paper in its characterization.
Quartermaine is far from Indiana Jones both in coolness and respect for others with a head-scratching portrayal you have to wonder how on earth he gained such popularity at the time (must be by confederate flag-waving whites), rest of the characters forgettable, and wildly inconsistent characterization/humanization with lines like “why kill the rhino when it’s not attacking you?” one scene while killing elephants + every other innocent, calm, own-business-minding animal in sight) seconds before, and falsely equivocating animals hunting to eat and *survive* with humans killing for fun and self-admitted trophies entirely unneccessary for their sustenance.
Overall, King Solomon’s Mines is a horrific white savior/colonialist film with wildly inconsistent characterization, sneering (distasteful, disdainful) antipathy to African culture – while reaping its location settings, & screenplay weak as wet tissue paper wasting its otherwise-decent natural cinematography. I cannot believe this film has any legacy or cinematic appraisal worth by hacks clearly inadvertently or purposely overlooking its dire racist undertones and flaccid execution. The only thing that could’ve redeemed this trashy Indiana-wannabe would have been if some of the animals being hunted by Quartermaine and colleagues had done a little hunting back themselves.
Overall Score: 3/10