She (1965)

She is a 1965 film made by Hammer Film Productions, based on the novel by H. Rider Haggard, directed by Robert Day. The movie stars Ursula Andress, Peter Cushing, Bernard Cribbins, John Richardson, Rosenda Monteros and Christopher Lee.

The opening scene is in 1918 Palestine, where Professor Holly, young Leo Vincey and their manservant Job are celebrating their honourable discharge from the British Army by embark on the exploration of a previously uncharted region of north-east Africa. Drinking at an establishment, Holly & Job are dancing with the belly dancers while Leo is enchanted by a young beautiful woman who introduces herself as Ustane. While his older companions get into a fight at the drinking establishment, Leo walks into the streets with Ustane and after they kiss, he is knocked unconscious by some men who were with her. Leo wakes up in a large house and meets the beautiful Ayesha who is also known as “She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed”, an immortal queen and high priestess. After they embrace and kiss, she gives him a map the lost city of Kuma and tells him to prove himself by making it to the city. Leo leaves and shows the map to both Holly & Job but is unable to find Ayesha again. They set off on camels through the desert but are attacked & looted by a group of natives.

The three men walk as their camels were looted and running out of water, with an injured Leo, they almost give up hope when Ustane comes to them with provisions and water. With Leo losing consciousness due to heavy loss of blood, they are taken by African tribal men to a village and are led to a small hut where Ustane’s father Haumeid awaits them. However the native tribesmen see a medial with a man’s image on it that looks like Leo and prepare to sacrifice him. The princess of the tribe leads the men in a ceremonial dance and they are about to kill him when Ayesha’s chief priest Billali arrives with a set of guards. They carry Leo to an ancient path that leads to a large rock statue of a man – the entrance of a cave is at the foot of the carving. They have reached the the lost city of Kuma, a realm ruled over by Aysha. She tells the party that believes Leo is the physically identical reincarnation of her former lover, the priest Kallikrates (whom she killed when she found him in an intimate embrace with another woman about two thousand years before). Now, having anticipated and awaited his return, Ayesha wants Leo, once he has recovered to walk into a mystical blue fire, which occurs only briefly during certain astronomical alignments. By entering the fire, Leo also will become immortal and take his place as Kallikrates.

However, while Leo is smitten by Ayesha, he is also moved by the love shown by Ustane, who calls him My Leo. He is also upset when Ayesha’s guards kills 15 of the tribal slaves, for their breaking of the rules of trying to harm him. Leo goes to strike Ayesha but is unable to do so, completely enthralled by her. Ayesha for her part, has Ustane killed (as she sees her kissing Leo and knows that she has fallen in love with him) and the guards deliver her ashes to Haumeid. Angered by the death of his daughter, Haumeid leads a rebellion of the tribesmen against the royal guards. In the midst of this battle Ayesha leads Leo to chamber that houses the mystical blue fire as it is time. However Billali attacks Leo as he wants immortality for himself as well; the chief priest is killed by Ayesha. Holly & Job arrive and watch as Ayesha takes Leo’s hand and leads him into the fire, and he becomes immortal. However, her second exposure to the fire destroys Ayesha’s immortality, and she dies as her body rapidly ages, decays and dies. Leo, despondent, refuses to leave along with Holly & Job, and states that he doesn’t care how long it takes for the fire to next burn blue, but it will find him waiting to undo his immortality.

Not horror but a really good fantasy/supernatural film that Hammer does well. It drags on for a bit but the latter half more than makes up for the slower paced beginnings. 7.5 outta 10!

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