Synopsis by Hal Erickson
African-American students who have accepted Rhodes scholarships may feel like wincing at Rhodes, an unabashed celebration of British imperialism. Walter Huston portrays Cecil Rhodes, the 19th century explorer who dreamed of "taming" the rugged African terrain. Establishing the colony of Rhodesia, the film's "hero" opens up the rest of the continent for the benefit of Mother England and its industrial elite. Increasing friction between Rhodes and Dutch prime minister Kruger (Oscar Homolka) results in the Boer War, treated herein as a noble British victory. (Three years later, Kruger would be the hero of the Nazi-sanctioned Ohm Kruger, which was twice as tastelessly chauvinistic as Rhodes.) Undeniably stirring and impressive, Rhodes nonetheless treats the subjugation of Africa as something pure and wonderful.
Africa, British, empire, exploration, imperialism