Farewell to the King (1989) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
28 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
9/10
A movie in the true Milius tradition...
toryu8822 August 2006
All the other posters make good points, but the one they miss is that this is first, last and simply, pure Milius. If you don't know who John Milius is you probably do not read movie credits. John Milius is a screen writer and director. Kind of a cult figure. His stock in trade is manly virtue. His detractors would use the term "macho", but that is too derogatory. Movies you may have see by him are, "Wind and the Lion, Red Dawn, Conan the Barbarian, Jeremiah Johnson, Clear and Present Danger, The Rough Riders, Apocalypse Now, Magnum Force, Dirty Harry, Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean. See a pattern here?

Every one of the above movies deals with male relationships, honor, loyalty, fall and redemption. Romance relationships take a back seat to the relationships between the male characters, be they protagonists or antagonists. Jeramiah Johnson is a great example of this and shares many theme similarities with Farewell to the King.

Milius the director's sense of honor transcends the norm and underscores his reputation as a Hollywood rebel and outcast. Leroyd is betrayed by his erstwhile allies symbolized by Gen. MacArthur who gives his word and violates that promise. Leroyd ultimately accepts his former hated Japanese enemy simply because he too possesses a personal code of honor similar to Leroyd. A similar scene plays out at the end of Red Dawn, where the Cuban Commander lets the dying Jed escape, carrying his dead brother (Charlie Sheen through a shared warriors sense of honor. Jed then goes to a playground to sit in a swing, presumably regaining their lost childhood in joined death. This is a familiar theme in Milius' work.

Another familiar theme is that of the Rebel or loose cannon. Dirty Harry, the Marine Captain in Wind and the Lion, are just a few examples. Milius is the quintessential loose cannon in Hollywood. So he probably feels a kinship to the characters of which he writes.

There are many other themes that are familiar to all his movies. The female as a catalyst and semi-tragic figure is another. His women move his protagonists to greater heights. The female at risk or her unfortunate demise drives the central character to either his doom or his redemption, or both.

I have to say that I am a Milius fan. This movie is one of my favorites by him. Yes, I cringe at some of the acting, like Sgt. Tenga's horrible fake British accent (Kenyan by way of Chicago, perhaps?) The English speaking "Apaches" also make me roll my eyes. But scenes like "Advance the Colors", or Leroyd's redemption at the end of the movie, more than make up for the other lapses. This movie is good stuff. Get a six pack, or a bottle of scotch, a few cigars, some munchies and enter the world of John Milius. A world where men live by their honor, disputes are resolved man to man, and if enemies survive the ordeal, the sit down and drink to one another as survivors.
18 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Fantastic film
longjimhancock7 February 2007
I've seen this film many times and it's one I would watch and enjoy any time it was on. Sure it has plot problems, but the over-all beauty of this story is both heart wrenching and epic. It ranks as one of my all-time favorites, like the beautiful cinematography of "The Mission". Its depiction of World War II war-time action in an obscure theater of war like Borneo, is both interesting and eye-opening. The plot is believable and gut wrenching in its depiction of an invader attacking ones homeland. I could not help but be reminded of scenes from another favorite film of mine, "Last of the Dog Men". I only wish this film was available generally to all in DVD format, as I believe it to be a film that buffs would want to add to their collection.
13 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
A gripping, thought-provoking, action adventure
JSPrine19 August 1999
Nick Nolte stars as the enigmatic hero of this little-known but highly interesting film. Basically at war with himself, Nolte evolves from Army deserter to a genuine jungle king.

He's an interesting actor, and never more so than in this movie, which is set in Borneo during World War II. It might just as easily been set in a Montagnard village during the Vietnam War.

This off-beat, under-rated movie is more of a psychological study than a mindless, run-of-the-mill action flick. This movie has a lot more depth and heart than that.

The locations are beautiful, the musical score is outstanding, and, as in most John Milius films, the uniforms, weapons, and other goodies are faithfully and accurately depicted with wonderful detail.

This is a thinking man's "war movie". If you enjoyed "The Man Who Would Be King", you will very likely enjoy this film, too.

If you can find it on video, snap it up fast!
16 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Pure beauty of love, war, adventure, heroism, honesty, bravery...
jure-817 January 2007
You gotta be really stupid to mark this one lower then 8. It's fantastic movie that combines films like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Headless Horseman), Dances with Wolves, River on bridge Kwai... With stunning performance of Nick Nolte - this character has been like made for him! And not to mention Nigel Havers who is one of the biggest underdogs in movie industry today. He pick ups where Peter O'Toole left. Playing dandy intellectuals with ease and graciousness.

I liked the adaptation skill given to natives. Unlike other portraits of Indians or other native cannibal age tribes folks here are keen of accepting useful western habits so the gap of values isn't unbridgeable. That might be unrealistic but it's a movie and that is what movies are about.

Although there were sad moments in the movie it didn't left me depressed but lifted me high. Great soundtrack helps with that.

Highly recommended.
10 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Captivating
Raynedog31 July 1999
I can't explain why, but this movie captivates me. I had never seen or even heard of it, and bought it from a video store that was going out of business. And I am glad that I did.

For some reason this movie stirrs emotion for me. and the last line at the end, well, you'll see, if you see the film.

If you have a chance to rent this movie, do so. Even if you don't get the charge out of it I did, you will at the very least, be entertained.

I recommend it. 7 out of 10
22 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
a stirring and sentimental adventure in the grand tradition
drmality16 July 2000
This is one of the best films of the 80's yet it is criminally overlooked. Released in an era when Rambo was king, it seems many people just didn't get the film's messages of loyalty, redemption and personal integrity. In other words, it is a true adventure and not just a bang-bang action flick. The kind of movie we need to see more of. Nick Nolte has never been one of my favorite actors but he shines as the gruff King Learoyd. Learoyd is a man of action on the surface but he has been running from conflict his whole life. When he sees that the justice of our "real world" is perverted beyond hope, he retreats to the more honorable world of primitive, uncorrupted Borneo.Eventually, the real world intrudes in the form of World War 2. As The Botanist tells him, "you can no longer avoid history". Learoyd replies, "The world's so full of crap that you're bound to step in it someday. Is that what you call history?" Finally, Learoyd can no longer hide and the war hits him with its full fury. He is shattered by loss yet not unbeaten.He retains his integrity and transcends to non-violence. In one of the film's most emotional scenes, he accepts the surrender of the Japanese Colonel who has tormented him with grace and understanding, leading to the Colonel's own redemption. This is a gorgeous film. full of breathtaking scenery and well-conceived action. The performances are all top-notch, especially Nigel Havers as The Botanist. Why is Havers seen so little?He seems to be an actor of depth and talent. I also enjoyed the character of Tenga, who brought some welcome humor to the movie. Farewell to the King can be accused of being too sentimental and I can't disagree. There are worse things to have in a movie than sentiment, though. I hope this film achieves some of the recognition it is due. It is certainly John Milius' best.
13 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Great Movie !!
rrtwitchell31 March 2008
Excellent movie about the wonderful culture of those in Borneo and the warriors of the Malaysian continent. Awesome message on the effects of hate and war.....excellent analogy of " Salt" & message about " Life". The scenery and acting in my opinion makes this film a hidden treasure, I'm sorry to say, but it took me way to long to discover this movie ......the movie was made in 1989 and I was finally able to view it in 2008. Late Bloomer ! I study the culture of this country and I find it to be a fantastic piece of information that I can add to my video library.This movie is in my top 3 ultimate favorites list...right next to "13th Warrior" and "Braveheart"...... Excellent movie
12 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The last king of Borneo
Scott-85 February 1999
One person I know saw this movie and called it "Ramblonde" after Nick Nolte's long hair. Other people have characterized as an adaptation of King Lear.

"Farewell to the King" is really neither. It's a story about a man who finds his kingdom and himself against the backdrop of World War Two Borneo.

The movie is touching and dramatic about a man who leaves behind a war he didn't want and everything he knew, only to have to face it again. Many questions are raised about the meaning of loyalty and honor, and who is your enemy and your friend.

Not, it's definitely not a "Rambo" movie, more a tight and involving drama the way they used to make them.
13 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
A moving, if slow, drama
peter-8565 August 2004
This is a curious piece whose dramatic arc takes a while to reach its full speed, but builds to a climax of considerable horror, involving cannibalism, genocide, loyalty and revenge. It is, I think, a mistake to label it an action movie: it is a drama, and played with a theatricality to which the viewer must adjust.

Nevertheless, once it gets into its stride this film has considerable charm.

The core cast bond closely and Frank Mcrae, who plays Sgt Tenga, and Marius Weyers (Sgt. Conklin) manage to give warmth to the invaders who threaten the survival of The People of the Hills.

The central relationship, between Nolte and Havers, is a fragile one which teeters on the brink of formulaic in Nolte's rescue of the sick Englishman and their mutual debts of gratitude and obligation. However, as they plunge into the conflict against the remnants of the defeated Japanese army, they each shock one another with what they are prepared to do.

I think the climax of the horror, which I do not wish to spoil, is brilliantly done. I felt the protagonists' turmoil and understood their brutal reactions, while still being shocked by it.

This film is open to charges of hokiness, theatricality and slowness, but, given a chance, it explores themes similar to those in The Thin Red Line; the imperialistic side effects of the Pacific war and the dehumanising effect of soldiering, against the fully human power of love and community.
8 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
One of the greatest movies ever.
Lornsorrow5 February 2004
Farewell to the King is one of the greatest war movies, and simply one of the greatest movies ever. I've seen and own dozens of WWII movies and this is one of the best. The story unfolds in a grand sweeping fashion reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia, even Lost Horizon. At the same time it manages to capture a reality of life and loss that rarely sees the light of day on film or anywhere else for that matter.

It's great to see so many people here at IMDb and elsewhere have so much good to say about this film. Nick Nolte is fantastic as the soldier turned king and turns in one of his strongest performances ever. The film is breathtaking, the acting, story, and music is top notch. It's a gripping film, very necessary and old school/Hollywood in a time filled with dime a dozen action hero types.

Perhaps where some of the few critics get thrown is by the near fantasy nature of the story. If they would follow through with the stories presentation, intent, and the directors molding (done wonderfully by John Milius), they could find in fact that it works great on every level. It starts with a romanticized viewpoint of war and the "Flare of our youth" that many soldiers could look back on, to descend into the depths of hell and the realities of war that all should remember and none should forget. All of this of course is presented in a grand old tale container. The container has of that nature and large enough to hold some of the narrative information and striking, barbaric realities that the film so accurately presents, along side the beauty and normalities of what people could have in life. It's not easy to portray a vision of hell and a vision of Shangri-la (of sorts) in the same picture. This film is saying a great deal on many levels. One thing is that real freedom and a real Shangri-la is worth fighting for. Yet it's also one of the few films to even dare begin to unfold the true nature of how barbaric the Pacific War was. After years of studying the Pacific War, I can tell you that as well done as this movie is, it only skims the surface. But what a picture it gives.
13 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Ah, I loved this movie at once
sonofhades23 July 2001
It is a war movie so original I felt my heart ache when I saw the pain shown on Nick Nolte's character's face when he realizes what he must do in order to save some of his regime.

Go watch this movie, the role of Nick Nolte excels anything he has done on his lifetime.
8 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
powerful and moving war drama
trojans75 August 2007
this is a little seen but worth finding war movie about one mans journey from deserter to king.

nick nolte giving another fine performance and john milus directing a more personel film with incite in the way he think and feels about mans time on earth. if you like solid war movie that are not all action or all talk this has the right blend. beautiful shot so that you feel the heat and sweat of the jungle.

this is old school film making so if your into michael bay stay away. but if your into history, ww2 or just a good yarn find it buy it and tell your mates about it.it may not be a classic but it should be.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Excellent but Flawed
AFernandez5817 June 2005
"Farewell to the King" is a very well made, acted and photographed film version of Schoendoeffer's novel. The theatrical version seems too short for the epic scope of the story. Don't know if it was heavily edited or whether the production's grasp exceeded their financial means but there is something missing here. This is a film that could have been Milius's great masterpiece (although Big Wednesday is a pretty great film). It has something important and striking to say about war and about the nature of the bond between Western adventurers and "savage" tribal people applicable to the American misadventure in Vietnam and to earlier periods such as Lawrence of Arabia during World War One. It doesn't quite succeed. Still this 1989 war film, unfairly dismissed at the time as a blond version of Rambo, has some of Milius' best work as a filmmaker. This is a film ripe for re-evaluation in a deluxe edition DVD.
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
They don't make them like this anymore!
MisterChandu10 July 2006
I just bought this thing for a dollar at a video store that was going belly up (as a lot of them are doing now.) This was made in 1989 over 17 years ago now and I had never seen it. It is a good film and I am glad I bought it. It filled in a lazy summer afternoon.

This is a good old fashioned romantic south seas adventure film in the tradition of things like " His Majesty O'Keefe", "South Sea Women", the boring "Lord Jim" and even "Mutiny on the Bounty" in a way. It also resembles "Dances with Wolves" too. This film is a bit violent but any war movie would be.

The days of signing on a tramp steamer and seeing the south seas are as long gone as the Phonograph and 78 rpm record. The jet age, travel agencies, and space age communication have destroyed whatever romance traveling there might have had.

Films with plots like this now happen in outer space, not the south seas. It is a little too violent so I give it a 9. This is a genre that I think can no longer sustain an audience.

Farewell to the King!
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Wonderful film
JBAGNA4 February 2004
I love this film! I bought it on DVD recently but when I saw it on TV I was somehow captivated by it. The film captivated me for a number of reasons. Firstly the film in my opinion is based on the exploits of an actual British botanist Major Tom Harrison who did exactly what Nigel Haver's character did in 1945 helping the tribes. He never met a king but from what I read there were striking similarities. Also I like Nigel Havers I think he is a great actor and here he proves that he is just that. He gives the film emotion and has a wonderful presence with his voice especially his last line of the film, wonderful!

I also like the fact that film shows the British and Aussies did a lot of work fighting the Japanese and it wasn't just the Americans. Nick Nolte's character is just about what I'd expect from him gritty, and King like, although it is hard not see the similarities between him and Rambo. James Fox is good too and I'm glad he was in it. The film does have its flaws and the story seems to make it incoherent at times which is its major weakness. Having said that I still think it is one of my favorite World War Two movies.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A fine film and a haunting score.
twwilson14 June 2006
I started school in 1942 while the Marines were fighting on Guadalcanal. I entered the 4th grade upon Japan's surrender. In between I saw all the black and white WWII movies that came to the old Westmore Theater within walking distance of my home, now long gone with all the other old neighborhood picture palaces, replaced by the sterility of the mall clusters. Many of those films are still among my favorites. Over the years many more films dealing with various aspects of WWII have come along, mostly in color. Some capture the era and some don't but some fine ones have been made. One of those is Farewell to the King.

Now I know that such things are highly subjective but the opening sequence after the credits evokes such a feeling of nostalgia in me. You see, I remember these men "in the flare of their youth". I saw the Greatest Generation leave and return and they were ten feet tall to me. I had a box of ribbons, patches, area bombing photographs and other items they gave me when they came home.

But I digress. Farewll To The King is a testament to the futility of trying to escape history as Nigel keeps telling Leroyd. Here is a man who felt abandoned by his leader and escapes from the war himself and inadvertently finds a paradise only to have history catch up with it and destroy it. This is the great tragedy of the film. It is a tragedy for all concerned as war always is. It is not only a tragedy for Leroyd but for the soldiers who are sent to help fulfill the mission of engaging the natives of Borneo in the fight against the Japanese and who become enamored themselves with what Leroyd has found. It is a tragedy for Nigel's commanding officer who is himself smitten by it but knows what the result will be. It is a tragedy for the Japanese. And the magnificent score by Basil Poledouris just heightens the sense of it. And, as another reviewer has noted, the ending is great.

I highly recommend this film.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
pure entertainment, fun to watch
brucemcmahon27 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Farewell to the King, was not Oscar quality, however it was a lot better than most of the bilge that Hollywood barfs out. I have learned that if you don't expect much from todays movies you won't be disappointed. I liked the theme of the movie, the "backwater" of WWII away from the "show". The cast was wonderful, I'm not going to pick-em-apart. The plot was believable, read-up about the coast watchers, or downed pilots evading the enemy in the Pacific. Don't be critical, let your imagination go free, imagine yourself in Nolte's place, be part of the movie, after all that is what it is all about, jump starting your mind.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
If there is such a thing as a beautiful war movie ...this is it .............
merklekranz18 February 2010
From the opening scene of a lifeboat being tossed about by gigantic waves, "Farewell to the King" leads us on a glorious World War 2 adventure into the jungles of Borneo. Nick Nolte plays an army deserter, who becomes king of a tribe of headhunters. Ultimately the war comes to him, and he and his tribe must face the ruthless retreating Japanese army. I cannot believe how magnificent the photography is in this film. Each frame could stand alone as a beautiful photograph. I believe to fully appreciate "Farewell to the King", you must forget the film's shortcomings and simply enjoy it for what it is, and what it is, is beautiful. - MERK
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
One of Hollywood's best films, ever!
freethinker36511 January 2004
This is the type of movie Hollywood _should_ be producing more of... this is 10fold Nick Nolte's best performance, and should be seen by any fan of Nolte's, and any fan of quality film making (something that's becoming a "rare gem" in today's hedonist society)! This film has almost everything; happiness, misery, love, hate/revenge, hope, disillusionment, discovery, loss, and exemplifies many of life's lessons... truly one of the best films I've ever seen.
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
a jungle epic
SnoopyStyle6 September 2016
In WWII, British Captain Fairbourne (Nigel Havers) and Sergeant Tenga (Frank McRae) parachute into the jungles of Borneo to recruit the locals for the fight against Japanese occupation. They are shocked to find a white man as their king. Learoyd (Nick Nolte) had escaped the fate of Corregidor by joining other American deserters on a small boat. They landed on the island but he was the only one who escaped the Japanese executions. His blue eyes saved his life in the tribe. The women saw the sea in them, and the sea means salt, and salt means life. He was able to win against the evil ruler, bring peace to the tribes, and unite 22 longhouses. A Japanese plane strafes the settlement after triangulating on Tenga's radio. Learoyd agrees to fight the Japanese for the freedom of the tribes.

There is a poetry to this jungle epic. It's an old fashion action adventure that feels very literary. Nick Nolte's acting can be divisive. His grandiose performance fits a man gone mad and reborn as a king. In addition, Nolte is perfect to play it. There is a possible way to see a white man leading locals as racist. I don't think that's valid since more white men came and ultimately destroyed paradise. There are memorable scenes and turns in this. It is grand cinema and minor box office failure.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Nolte in his prime
vincentlynch-moonoi23 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
There was a time when Nick Nolte was a powerhouse actor. Before his personal problems took their toll. This film is one of several Nolte performances before the real troubles began, and along with films such as "Cape Fear", "The Prince Of Tides", and "Jefferson In Paris", showed that Nolte had a wide acting range that was sometimes downright surprising.

Before watching this film it is important to understand that it is anti-British colonialism (which is fine by me) and it has a romantic notion of life in Borneo. Having been in Southeast Asia a fair amount -- although not in Borneo -- the picture of life depicted here is not as wonderful as it appears. But, it is always interesting. Part of the film was shot in Malaysia, substituting for Borneo.

Another thing you know before going in is that the ending is not going to be a happy one, although the very conclusion is a tad upbeat, but not until a great deal of sorrow had occurred.

The 3 primary actors are Nick Nolte, who is superb as an American who has washed ashore in Borneo and become a king of a local tribe...a life he sees as paradise. Nigel Havers is excellent as the British officer to interrupts paradise, with good intentions (of course), but who brings about an end to paradise. James Fox, an excellent British actor, has a rule that is, perhaps, the most thankless in his career..

This film was a disaster at the box office, and I'm not sure why. It's well done. All I can think is that time timing was wrong.

Recommended.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Don't see this every day !!!
dunsuls-110 February 2012
One fabulous movie !!! OK it's not Lawrence of Arabia but its a movie based on a novel by Pierre Schoendoerffer so we know it's fiction and nothing more.Ah but what fiction !! Director:John Milius crafts a fine tale that makes you think as I once heard somewhere else,IF that story isn't true it should have been (film - the cowboys)There was a time Nick Nolte could really act and this film released in 1989 proves it.At 115 minutes I wanted MORE.There is NOTHING not to like about this film.The story of a third party being caught up in the dispute of others is timeless and when that dispute is war and the third party are savages or really just not civilized in the western sense,they only collect heads and live in the jungle,rather than live in comfort based on the exploitation of others,like colonial powers involved in such war,that you have a set up for a Don Quixote story as played by Nolte. So don't look for Lawrence but rather a violent but principled Sancho Panza and you will enjoy the film.British,Japanese and Borneo as a battleground works as well as any other setting from WW11 and less done to boot.Fine acting by Nigel Havers as a Lawrence type,Capt. Fairbourne really complements Nolte as this American deserter from Corregidor survivors after being beached on Borneo and seeing the soldiers he escaped with die.He then survives in the jungle only to be captured by headhunters,and here's the romance,is loved by a native and he thus learns there way and becomes "free"to lead his "comanches"as KING !!!Great stuff if not for that damned old war !!! The darker issue of re-colonizing after the war is also delved into although not as much as one might wish.Do yourself a favor and see it,for they really don't make um like this anymore.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
The incessant march of Western Imperialism
david-sarkies30 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
There was numerous parts of this movie that reminded me of Conan the Barbarian. Not the plot but rather the directing style. John Milius has a style that can be pleasing to the eye at times, though the director of Photography was Dean Semlar, a hero to South Australians as he won an academy award for his camera work on Dances with Wolves.

Farewell to the King is a story set in the closing days of world war II. The Japanese and the Germans are losing the war and the plan is to unite the tribes of Borneo so that when the Australians land and push the Japanese back from the coast they will meet a strong opposition within. The island of Borneo, at this time, is still relatively untouched with many tribes living deep within the jungles. The Japanese occupy the island but only on the rim, the natives control the tribes within.

When a botanist is sent into the heart of Borneo, he is captured by a tribe and brought to their king, who happens to be an American. The Botanist gains the king's confidence, though he plans on overthrowing him in favour of the allied forces. He learns that the King deserted the American Army when Macarther pulled out of the Phillipines. He escaped with other friends to Borneo when they crashed and clambered ashore. His mates wanted to get help from the Japanese but he did not trust them so he struck off on his own. Later he discovered that the Japanese caught and executed his friends. He then, dying of malnutrition and malaria, was found by a tribe and they were going to sell his head to the Japanese but a dragon tattoo on his chest and his blue eyes saved him. He them managed to unite the tribes, defeat a despotic leader, and became their king.

The movie deals with him as the King and how the war and American imperialism destroys his kingdom. He is a king and his subjects see him as such, but the Americans refuse to acknowledge his nation, and even though they sign a treaty with him, they consider it worthless and wish to bring him in for court marshal. The botanist though begins to build a strong friendship with the king and learns that he really is a king for he rules wisely. We watch as the botanist goes from his view of civilised British to an acceptance of the legitimacy of the native culture.

This movie attacks the idea of white supremacy and civilisation. The Anglo-Saxon's in this movie consider them to be far superior to the natives of Borneo and believe that they need to bring their civilisation to them. At the beginning the Botanist corrects himself when he first says that they were going to recapture Borneo and then says liberate. What is interesting though is the longer he spends with the natives the more he comes to accept their lifestyle. The other soldiers that come to train the natives in the art of warfare also become to love the life and reject the western life. We also watch as the tribe changes as the war comes to them. They begin with swords and shields and finish with mortars and heavy machineguns. When the King finally gives himself up his retinue consists of a number of nationalities and they are all equipped as mercenaries.

In farewell to the King we watch the end of the native culture and the beginning of Western Imperialism. The last outpost of the native is worn away as the Western Imperialists drive the Japanese out only to remain there themselves. The King tried to remain out of the war but the war was sent to them. Even though the Japanese were defeated the Western Imperialists did not pull out but worked to subjugate the natives of Borneo. They removed one evil only to replace another.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Learoyd was not always a king
pkarnold30 December 2011
Learoyd started off in the Philippines, was deserted by his country, so he fled and landed on an island as a deserter, where he was lost in the jungle, and found by head hunters. What happened next was the basis of an amazing story and a wonderful movie.

The man was crazy, and yet was brought back to life by the tribe, the women of the tribe seeing his eagle tattoo and believing he was sent by the gods. Eventually he became king of the village, and the tribe, and life was settled and happy, until the British army parachuted into this seeming island paradise, and drew the king and his tribe into the war against the Japanese.

While the setting of the story is war, this is a psychological drama concerning loyalty, and honor, and courage. The movie is attractive to the eye, and comparisons to a Joseph Conrad story are appropriate. John Milius, who directed the movie and wrote the screenplay, presents this movie in almost a tantalizing, epic manner. The scenery, the musical score are wonderful! And if at times the plot is a little rough, it is easily forgotten because of themes like friendship, and life and death. And of course, what would a tragedy be like without betrayal?

If you can leave your cynicism at the door, and even a few of your sensitivities against violence at the back of the room, then you can enjoy this movie. Ultimately, as good, and sad as this movie is, there are also themes of redemption, especially at a personal level. Nick Nolte is excellent as Learoyd. Nigel Havers is solid as Captain Fairbourne. In fact, I could not spot any poor acting in this movie.

In this movie, the lines between friends and enemies are blurred, but positive human qualities transcend the faces of war, and that is why I suppose I enjoyed this movie so much.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
Nick Nolte practicing for his mugshot
kaholle8 July 2007
I just caught "Farewell to the King" on cable, and maybe it's just because I'm a girl, but I thought this was on the craptastic side. The script and direction are pretentious (once I found out John Milius was responsible, it all became clear). The supporting actors actually weren't bad - James Fox was outstanding. The biggest disappointment was Nick Nolte, who I usually enjoy. Once he goes native, he starts speaking a very stiff, stilted English, and half the time, he seems kind of distracted, as if he'd just smoked some of the bounty of Borneo's rain forest. And then the end -- what the ??? Learoyd just happens to be on the same boat as The Botanist (by the way, had the Botanist dumped the girlfriend, or what?)??? The boat just happens to run aground conveniently close to an island ripe takeover by a crazy Anglo ex-headhunting Army deserter??
3 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed