The Royal Hunt of the Sun 1969 ****

Peter Schaffer’s popular plays is adapted for a surprisingly cinematic epic by Irving Lerner, following the adventures of gold-hunting explorer Pizarro (Robert Shaw) and his confrontation with the Inca people, and specifically a battle of wills with their many-feathered leader Atahualpa (Christopher Plummer). Whether Atahualpa is a god or a man is a matter of some debate, and although a deal is struck that allows Pizarro to remove the Inca gold, the friendship between the two men means that the explorer has a heavy price to pay. Disposing of some of the more symbolic production elements of the stage-play, Lerner’s film is both intellectually rigorous and visually splendid, with two very different but equally impressive performances by Shaw and Plummer, the latter throwing himself in at the deep end to create an extraordinary, memorable character.


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