sign in a cave in Laos

5 April 2014

Farewell to the King, film, Bau caves

Farewell to the King is a 1988 film written and directed by John Milius. It stars Nick Nolte (Learoyd), Nigel Havers (botanist), Frank McRae (Tenga), and Gerry Lopez (Gwai) and is based on the 1969 novel L'Adieu au Roi by Pierre Schoendoerffer. 

During World War II, an American soldier, Learoyd, becomes a deserter and escapes a Japanese firing squad in the Philippines in 1942. He manages to sail to Borneo and hides himself in the wilds of Borneo. Learoyd is adopted by a head-hunting tribe of Dayaks, a tribe of headhunters. They consider him "divine" because of his blue eyes.

Before long, Learoyd is the reigning king of the Dayaks. He takes a local wife and has a child. When British soldiers approach him to rejoin the war against the Japanese, Learoyd resists. When his own tribe is threatened by the invaders, the "king" deigns to fight for their rights when the Japanese attack his adopted people. This war story told in the style of Joseph Conrad and Rudyard Kipling.

The film was partly shot on location in the caves at Bau, Kuching, Sarawak. The crew stayed in the Holiday Inn, Kuching and returned there every night. The hotel is within a two-hour drive of every jungle, river, cave or beach location used for "Farewell to the King." 

The film is different from the book. In the book, Learoyd is an Irishman in the British army. The film wasn't very successful and had very mixed reviews. Release Date: 7 July 1989 (UK)


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