Peachy Carnehan:Not gods - Englishmen. The next best thing.
A 1975 film directed by John Huston and starring Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Christopher Plummer about the glorious and awful sides of European Imperialism. This film follows Daniel Dravot (Connery) and Peachy Carnehan (Caine), two former non-commissioned officers of the British Raj on a journey into the wilds beyond the Khyber Pass and into the lands of Kafiristan on a mission to become kings, or die trying.Based on a short story by Rudyard Kipling (played by Plummer here).
Alexander the Great: Known as "Sikander" to the Kafirs, and held in legend as a god since he passed through and helped advance the region millenia earlier. He said he would return one day, and the high priests have been waiting ever since.
Ancient Conspiracy: Peachy and Danny are members of the Freemasons. When this is found out, it marks them as the descendants of Alexander the Great to the Holy Men, as Alexander left behind Masonic symbols.
Brownface: Peachy and Danny use this in-universe to cross the border, posing as fakirs.
Celibate Hero: Inverted and ultimately subveted - Daniel and Peachy are doubtlessly as sly with women as they are with men's money and trust, but both make a pact not to dabble in matters of the opposite sex until their quest to become kings is achieved. Despite their unscrupulous nature, they stick to this surprisingly well. Until Danny lets godhood get to his head and he demands a wife...
Evil Colonialist: Peachy Carnehan and Daniel Dravot, who plan to use their British military training and a supply of smuggled arms to take over the tribes of Kafiristan (now a part of Afghanistan). They are openly racist and treat locals with (often undeserved) contempt.
Exact Words: The Contract is null and void when any of the men became a king...
Final Speech: At the end of the film, as they face death, the protagonists join together in singing a rousing Protestant hymn, "The Son of God Goes Forth to War", which is sung to the tune of "Minstrel Boy".
It is an actual historical region in Afghanistan. It was called such by its Muslim neighbors because, like in the story, its inhabitants were not Muslims and it was largely inaccessible because of geography. It remained mysterious to outsiders for centuries until Afghans finally conquered the region and forcibly converted its people to Islam only in 1896, 8 years after the original story was published. The region is now called Nuristan.
Peachy and Danny stuck in the Hindu Kush, where they think they will freeze to death.
And Billy Fish, refusing his chance to escape.
"Gurkha foot soldier, not cavalry. Rifleman Majendra Bahadur Gurung wishing you many good lucks." (draws kukri and charges the mob) "Ayo Gurkhali!"note "Here come the Gurkhas!", part of the Gurkha battle cry.
Nubile Savage: Roxanne and a woman who attempts to seduce Peachy at one point in the film.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Danny masquerades as a 'poor, harmless priest' in order to gain safe passage through Afghanistan.
Ominous Latin Chanting: Not quite, but omnious tribal music during the wedding sequence lets the audience know something is up...
Only Known by Their Nickname: Peachy and Daniel dub their Gurkha sidekick "Billy Fish" because he reminds him of an Army friend of the same name.
Only the Knowledgable May Pass: When the straight-laced Kipling first meets the roguish Peachy, the atmosphere is awkward. But then they identify each other as Freemasons by a exchange of ritual phrases, and Kipling is compelled to help Peachy as a fellow Freemason.
Peachy: ...Suppose I was to ask you, as a stranger going to the West, to seek for that which was lost - what would you say then?
Kipling: ...I should answer, where do you come from?
Peachy: From the East, and I am hoping that you will give my message on the square for the sake of the widow’s son.
Severed Head Sports: People in Kaffiristan are shown playing polo with the head in a bag of a chieftain who was deposed. Part of the reason the narrator takes his friend's severed head with him, is so that he avoids his dishonor.
This is based on real life polo-like game called Buzkashi popular in Afghanistan. The modern version of the game is played with the carcass of a goat or a calf, but earlier versions were reputed to involve corpses of vanquished enemies.
Unreliable Narrator: Averted at the end, when Peachy proves the tale was true by taking Danny's head out of a bag with the crown still on it.
Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The film is based partly on the travels of American adventurer Josiah Harlan and James Brooke, the English "white Raja" of Sarawak in Borneo.
Villain Protagonist: Danny and Peachy qualify as this in many ways - though grudgingly likeable characters you can't help but root for during most of the film, they're also bigoted, remorseless con men seeking to plunder a small nation by taking advantage of it's primitive culture and deeply held religious beliefs. Not to mention casual racism, many imperialistic undertones and open contempt to anything not English.
What Could Have Been: During the 1950s, John Huston tried unsuccessfully to make a version of the film starring Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable but he was never able to do so. Both of them were long dead by 1975.