review for Mountains of the Moon on AllMovie

Mountains of the Moon (1990)
by Brendon Hanley review

Bob Rafelson achieved fame as a director in the early 1970s with Five Easy Pieces, and he had tried ever since to bring the story of explorers Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke to the screen. He finally realized that ambition in 1990 with the epic adventure Mountains of the Moon. Given its scope, the film was a rather unusual release: The director's previous two films were the decidedly lower-scale films noirs The Postman Always Rings Twice and Black Widow. Mountains plays like a cross between a big-screen epic and the smaller character studies more common in Rafelson's previous work. He's aided by the striking cinematography of Roger Deakins (who would go on to shoot Fargo and Kundun), and the surprisingly effective performances of Patrick Bergin and Iain Glen. The screenplay by Rafelson and William Harrison is based on Harrison's biographical novel, as well as the actual diaries of Burton and Speke.