5 A longer version of this essay exists.farnzy | 18/05/2007 | See all farnzy's reviews (164)Top 10 Reviewer Top 10 DVD Reviewer As soon as the opening bars of Joan Armatradings title song manifest themselves the film immediately gains a pathos that touches and haunts the next 133mins and lifts this genre piece to somewhere near tragedy. Coupled with Maurice Binders titles we are in anti-Bond territory, the visuals depicting civil strife caused by 007s colonial masters and the nefarious dictators left by them to fill the void.The themes of self determination, decolonisation and apartheid, although handled somewhat unevenly, give Wild Geese an added political dimension, an attempt to explain and highlight the complicated relationship between the African nations and the waning power of the European states to completely dominate that continent as they see fit. This is a trait that all but disappeared in the mainstream action genre in the 1980s, aside that is, from the simplistic anti-communist messages aimed at overthrowing the evil empire of the USSR.Detractors would point to the lack of political correctness and their arguments are tempting and persuasive. Yes it is interesting to analyse a film from 30 years ago and subject it to modern moral judgements; but ultimately it is a redundant exercise. The social, historical, and political context of The Wild Geese are forever fixed in celluloid-just as much as every camera move, dialogue delivery and acting nuance.Onto this political canvas are drawn an ensemble of memorable characrets led by an aging all-star cast who attack their lines with precision, ferocity, and humour. Their entwining relationships based upon comradeship, financial necessity, and idealism give the film a heart that at times will be broken for the audience. These men have an inherent sadness, something missing, and something that can only be replaced by battle and the company of other men in their situation.As Stransky points out in Cross of Iron this is indeed a 'world of men', a world without women, a world we seldom see in the action of today. Heather has barely two scenes and in one of these she is beaten for protecting Fynn. Sandys wife makes her displeasure at Faulkners sudden appearance cleanly felt because she cannot compete and hope to win over her husbands first true love.The stongest female influences come from beyond the screen. Faulkners wife has died from cancer, probably after suffering a shortened lifetime of fear, dread, and isolation. With his wife dead his only connection to his precarious hold on morality is Janders. On the surface Janders has a more together moral centre than his old friend in the shape of his young son Emile. This is misleading. An idealist he may be but this idealism cost him his wife and as a result he has sent Emile to boarding school. His wifes departure undoubtedly put pay to his African adventures prematurely and despite his protests is all to happy to off load his son to the schools Headmaster.For Faulkner to secure Janders services he has to make, in his eyes, a faustian pact with the devil. If Janders dies in Africa he must take care of his son. This shows the absolute distrust of Emiles mother if an alcoholic mercenary he hasnt seen in 10 years is favoured instead of her. Although this may not be as far fetched as it first appears. The 10 years aside, Janders probably spent more time with Faulkner than with anyone else, including his own son. Moreover, he can trust Faulkner with his life; he probably couldnt say the same about Emiles mother.These bonds underpin any subsequent action scenes. This 'world of men' may be ruthless, hard and dangerous but it is also humorous, intospective and courageous. Only The Wild Bunch or The Magnificent 7 death scenes rival the pain of Sandy shouting 'Alan' for the first and final time.