Watch Now: DARK OF THE SUN
British filmmaker and director of photography Jack Cardiff was well-known for his cinematography work on films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s 1949 thriller Under Capricorn and John Huston’s 1951 adventure movie The African Queen, as well as for making Sons and Lovers (1960) which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. The year 1968 saw him tackling the adaptation of Wilbur Smith’s 1965 novel titled The Dark of the Sun, with a screenplay written by Ranald MacDougall and Adrien Spies. Thus, the mission movie Dark of the Sun (i.e., The Mercenaries in the UK) was born, revolving around a gang of mercenaries tasked with a perilous rescue mission amidst the Congo Crisis, more specifically during the Simba Rebellion (1964-65) (whereas its source material is set during the Baluba rebellion (1960)).
Cardiff’s bleak adaptation that both Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino proclaimed one of their guilty pleasures was highly controversial at the time of its original release, primarily due to its depiction of merciless violence that included, but was not limited to, gang rape, child murders and senseless torture. In his 1996 autobiography Magic Hour, the filmmaker stated that even though his film was violent, the unspeakable horrors that were actually taking place in the Congo during that time period were way beyond anything he could have presented his viewers with.