The Tichborne Claimant (1998)

Genres - Historical Film  |   Sub-Genres - Period Film  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - UK  |  
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David Yates directed this $4 million fact-based British period drama, set in Victorian England and reminiscent of The Return of Martin Guerre and Sommersby. An elderly African-American man, Andrew Bogle (John Kani), dying in a London workhouse in 1895, reflects on the circumstances that led to this end. As a Tichborne family servant, Bogle was sent to Australia during the mid-1870s to locate the family's missing heir Sir Roger. Bogle selects someone (Robert Pugh) from several claimants, trains him in the proper behavior, and tutors him on the family background. Together, they will split the profits on the Tichborne estate. The family is convinced, but the sudden death of Sir Roger's mother (Paola Dionisotti) raises suspicions, leading to a rejection of the Claimant. With the support of Bogle, young lawyer John Holmes (Perry Fenwick), and entrepreneur Onslow (Dudley Sutton), the Claimant takes his case to the High Court, forum of the witty and clever barrister Hawkins (Stephen Fry). Until recently, this was the longest trial in British legal history. Shown at the 1998 Edinburgh Film Festival.