Asked to describe Destiny’s War recently, without much thought, I said, “Indiana Jones meets Lawrence of Arabia.”
My attempt to paint a picture of the story drew a further question, are there any movies like Destiny’s War? Well, not exactly, but there are some great movies worth seeing that take place in a similar setting.
I will attempt to keep these movie recommendations relevant to the period or about characters in Destiny’s War.
This list is films that take place in the early 20th century, during or before the First World War in the Middle East or Africa.
Lawrence of Arabia
Of course, this movie must come first on the list. TE Lawrence is introduced in the first chapter of Destiny’s War. The film is an epic masterpiece by David Lean, starring Peter O’Toole. The film is impressive on several levels. The cinematography is stunning, David Lean pushed the limits of filming at the time, modifying cameras to desert conditions to capture specific images. The “well scene” where Omar Sherif slowly rides into frame from a mirage in the desert captures the solitude and the cut scene where Peter O’Toole blows out the match, and it cuts to the desert and the theme music is probably one of the best cut scenes in cinematic history. The musical score now imbues the epic feeling of the desert. One also must remember, this is before CGI and modern special effects. They actually blew up trains, 1,000s riding camels and horses on the attack at Acaba, and bi-planes attacking Arab camps. If you have not seen this movie, stop reading and go watch it right now!
Mountains of the Moon
Marion references Sir Richard Francis Burton in Destiny’s War. In fact, it was the writing and travels of Sir Burton that fosters Marion’s interest in the Middle East and why he is there in the first place. Sir Richard Francis Burton was a renaissance man if there ever was one; a solider, translator, scientist, geographer, writer, adventurer, etc. He was also highly controversial for the time; he translated the Karma Sutra, which was banned across Europe. The only movie of him I am aware of is Mountains of the Moon. I believe it captures his spirit and essence well. It is based on one of his many adventures, this time searching for the source of the Nile. While this movie takes place before Destiny’s War, Burton is a character of a significant influence on Marion, and the film is worth watching to understand Marion’s’ fascination with the legend of Sir. Burton.
At the beginning of Destiny’s War, we learn that Australian and New Zealand troops are arriving in Egypt after the disastrous battle of Gallipoli. This is one of Mel Gibson’s first films, and it is a fantastic and heartfelt war drama. Gallipoli was a failure by any strategic measure. However, it solidified the character, honor, and tenacity of the Australian and New Zealand army, aka ANZACs. The world learned that the ANZACs are a mighty fighting force. As I understand, ANZAC day remains a very honored and respected holiday among the Australians and New Zealanders. A great film.
The Four Feathers
There are several editions of this film based on the 1902 novel by A. E. W. Mason. This adaptation stars Heath Ledger, Wes Bentley, and Kate Hudson. It captures an era just before the First World War from the British Army perspective. It is well-acted and filmed, a romantic military story of honor and love, however, from my limited research, it is a revisionist take on both the novel and history. An adaptation of the film has been made seven times; 1915, 1921, 1929, 1939, 1955, 1978, and 2002. Supposedly the 1939 version is considered the superior film, which I have in my queue.
The movie takes place in Africa during the First World War. It is one of Bogart’s and Hepburn’s best films. I included the film because it provides a zeitgeist of the era. Directed by John Huston, it is a movie worth watching, and I imagine Charlie Allnut (Bogart) captures the character of the day.
on my list to see
Queen of the Desert
A story about Gertrude Bell – a character from Destiny’s War.
Nicole Kidman plays explorer, diplomat Gertrude Bell in the Werner Herzog-directed true story of a woman who defied all convention.
The Lost Patrol
A British military patrol in the desert during the First World War. A shot rings out, the captain falls and with him dies the knowledge of his unit’s mission. Now a stalwart sergeant takes charge as he and his men try to escape the surrounding.
Forty Thousand Horsemen
Three best mates face a challenging time as soldiers in 1916. Stationed in Egypt with the promise of grand adventure, all they seem to manage is mischief in the Cairo nightclubs. But when German-backed Turkish forces attack British outposts in the Sinai desert, the soldiers climb into the saddle as mounted troops of the Australian Light Horse participating in a fierce battle at Romani and on to Gaza.
The Four Feathers (1939)
This Technicolor spectacular is considered the finest adaptation of A. E. W. Mason’s classic 1902 adventure novel. Set at the end of the nineteenth century, The Four Feathers follows the travails of a young officer accused of cowardice after he resigns his post on the eve of a major deployment to Khartoum; he must then fight to redeem himself in the eyes of his fellow officers and fiancée.