The Beast (1988)

R | 110 mins | Adventure, Drama | 16 September 1988

Director:

Kevin Reynolds

Producer:

John Fiedler

Cinematographer:

Douglas Milsome

Editor:

Peter Boyle

Production Designer:

Kuli Sander

Production Company:

A & M Films
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HISTORY

The film opens with a stanza from the Rudyard Kipling poem, “The Young British Soldier”: “When you’re wounded an’ left on Afghanistan’s plains, An’ the women come out to cut up your remains, Just roll to your rifle an’ blow out your brains, An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.” During the film, English language subtitles are used when actors are speaking in Pushtu language.
       The film is based on writer William Mastrosimone’s play, Nanawatai. Production notes in AMPAS library files and the 18 Sep 1988 LAT article noted Mastrosimone based the play on his travels to Afghanistan and Pakistan, after watching a 1980 documentary about the Soviet military campaign in Afghanistan. Arriving first in Pakistan, Mastrosimone journeyed into Afghanistan with Afghan rebel fighters for eight days. Afterward, he returned and remained in Pakistan for two months. Nanawatai, opened in Jan 1984 at the Den Nationale Scene theatre in Bergen, Norway. In Sep 1985, the play had its English-language debut at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in Los Angeles, CA. A year later, the 17 Nov 1986 LAT reported Mastrosimone was writing a screenplay based on the play. The 18 Sep 1988 LAT reported that director Kevin Reynolds and executive producer Dale Pollock had originally approached Geffen Companypany to make the picture, but Geffen passed on the production. In 1986, Pollock became associated with production company A & M Films, and “acquired the property for development” with financing from Columbia Pictures.
       According to production notes and the 8 May 1987 DV production chart, principal photography on ... More Less

The film opens with a stanza from the Rudyard Kipling poem, “The Young British Soldier”: “When you’re wounded an’ left on Afghanistan’s plains, An’ the women come out to cut up your remains, Just roll to your rifle an’ blow out your brains, An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.” During the film, English language subtitles are used when actors are speaking in Pushtu language.
       The film is based on writer William Mastrosimone’s play, Nanawatai. Production notes in AMPAS library files and the 18 Sep 1988 LAT article noted Mastrosimone based the play on his travels to Afghanistan and Pakistan, after watching a 1980 documentary about the Soviet military campaign in Afghanistan. Arriving first in Pakistan, Mastrosimone journeyed into Afghanistan with Afghan rebel fighters for eight days. Afterward, he returned and remained in Pakistan for two months. Nanawatai, opened in Jan 1984 at the Den Nationale Scene theatre in Bergen, Norway. In Sep 1985, the play had its English-language debut at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in Los Angeles, CA. A year later, the 17 Nov 1986 LAT reported Mastrosimone was writing a screenplay based on the play. The 18 Sep 1988 LAT reported that director Kevin Reynolds and executive producer Dale Pollock had originally approached Geffen Companypany to make the picture, but Geffen passed on the production. In 1986, Pollock became associated with production company A & M Films, and “acquired the property for development” with financing from Columbia Pictures.
       According to production notes and the 8 May 1987 DV production chart, principal photography on the film, with the working title The Beast of War, began on 23 Apr 1987 in Israel. Filming took ten weeks and included the following locations: Eliat, Jaffa, the Judaean Desert, and the Dead Sea. Locations within Morocco and Spain were also scouted, but filming in Israel was able to provide the production with “Russian tanks and weapons that had been captured from Syria.” As noted in the 26 Mar 1987 LAT, actor Steven Bauer, who played the character of “Taj” in the 1985 Los Angeles Theatre Center production, was cast to the reprise his role for the film. The cast went through training for their roles: the actors portraying Afghans learned their dialogue in the regional dialect Pushtu, while the actors playing Russian soldiers trained in the desert for ten days in physical endurance and military tank operations. The 26 Jul 1987 LAT noted the film’s budget as being between $7 million and $10 million, but the 18 Sep 1988 LAT reported the budget as $8 million.
       Reports on the film’s release date varied: the 26 Jul 1987 LAT noted that the picture was in post-production, and scheduled for a Feb 1988 release, while the 18 Sep 1988 LAT reported an original release date in Apr 1988, and the 29 Jun 1988 Var announced the film, referred to by the shortened title of The Beast, would be released on 7 Oct 1988.
       The picture had its world premiere at the Deauville Film Festival in Deauville, France, on 5 Sep 1988, as noted in the 31 Aug 1988 Var and 8 Sep 1988 Newsday. According to the 18 Sep 1988 LAT, the picture was viewed at the 1988 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Canada, on 14 Sep 1988.
       The film opened in limited release on 16 Sep 1988 in New York, NY, Los Angeles, CA, and Toronto, Canada, as noted in the 18 Sep 1988 LAT.
       End credits state: “Based on “Nanawatai,” originally produced in English by the Los Angeles Actors' Theatre/Los Angeles Theatre Center, Bill Bushnell, Artistic Producing Director.” The following acknowledgments appear in end credits: “Special Thanks To: The Government of Israel; Dave & Beulah, Jody Bress, John Currin.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
8 May 1987
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Sep 1988
p. 2, 13.
Los Angeles Times
17 Nov 1986
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
26 Mar 1987
Calendar, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jul 1987
Calendar, p. 23.
Los Angeles Times
16 Sep 1988
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
18 Sep 1988
Calendar, p. 18.
New York Times
16 Sep 1988
Section C, p. 13.
Newsday
8 Sep 1988
News, p. 6.
Variety
29 Jun 1988
p. 22.
Variety
31 Aug 1988
p. 4.
Variety
21 Sep 1988
p. 30.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures presents
An A & M Films production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
2d unit dir of photog
2d unit cam op
2d unit 1st cam op
2d unit 1st cam op
2d unit 2d cam op
Key grip
2d grip
2d grip
2d grip
2d grip
2d grip
2d grip
2d grip
2d grip
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Prod des
Art dept coord
Draftswoman
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Prop master
Prop person
Prop person
Prop person
Prop person
Prop person
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set painter
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus supv
Mus scoring eng
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr translator
Pushtu coach
Armorer
Asst armorer
Asst military adv
Military coord
Asst military coord
Prod supv
Prod supv
Scr supv
Prod office coord
Asst prod office coord
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Loc staff
Loc staff
Loc staff
Loc staff
Loc staff
Loc staff
Loc staff
Loc staff
Loc staff
Transportation mgr
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Tank crew
Tank crew
Tank crew
Tank crew
Tank crew
Tank crew
Tank crew
Tank crew
Tank crew
Tank crew
Tank crew
Tank crew
Tank crew
Tank crew
Tank crew
Tank crew
Tank crew
Prod controller
Accountant
Accountant
Unit pub
Unit nurse
Unit nurse
Addl casting
Extra casting
Prod secy
Prod secy
Asst to Mr. Reynolds
Asst to Mr. Fiedler
Asst to Mr. Pollock
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Catering by
Loc services provided by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based upon the play Nanawatai! by William Mastrosimone.
SONGS
“Streetcar Headed East,” written by Victor Tsi, performed by Kino, courtesy of Stingray Productions.
PERFORMER
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Beast of War
Release Date:
16 September 1988
Premiere Information:
World premiere at Deauville Film Festival, France: 5 September 1988
Los Angeles, CA New York, NY, Toronto, Canada openings: 16 September 1988
Production Date:
began 23 April 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Bright Star Film Enterprises
Copyright Date:
27 September 1989
Copyright Number:
PA431873
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Cameras and Lenses by Arriflex
Prints
Prints by Deluxe®
Duration(in mins):
110
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29044
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a rural Afghani village, a group of Soviet T-55 tanks attack. Shahzaman, an Afghan rebel fighter, assaults a tank with a bomb, killing the trapped crew. Konstantin Koverchenko, a driver from another tank and former scholar, runs over. Shahzaman aims his rifle at Koverchenko, but the gun is out of ammunition, and Koverchenko’s gunner, Kaminski, and gun-loader, Anton Golikov, capture him. Tank commander Daskal orders Shahzaman to be executed by running over him with the tank. Sherina, Shahzaman’s fiancée, pleads for Shahzaman’s life in her regional dialect of Pushtu, but Samad, the tank’s Afghan translator, stops her. Koverchenko hesitates to drive forward, but at Daskal’s final order, Koverchenko moves the tank and kills Shahzaman. Afterward, the tank leaves for Kandahar Road. However, at a split in the road, Daskal orders Koverchenko to go right, leading the tank into a dead-end valley. Meanwhile, Taj, Shahzaman’s brother, arrives at the village and finds his father, the village “khan” dead. When Sherina tells Taj that his brother was martyred, his uncle, Akbar, informs Taj that he is the new khan. Moustafa, Taj’s cousin and leader of a scavenger group, arrives and says the tank that killed Shahzaman is in the Valley of the Jackal. Wanting vengeance, Sherina gives Taj Shahzaman’s rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher. Moustafa says the weapon is capable of destroying a tank, and assures Taj he knows how to use it. Taj sets out with Akbar, Moustafa, and a group of men to track and kill the Russian soldiers. In the valley, as Kaminski and Golikov look over the damage done to the tank, Taj’s ... +


In a rural Afghani village, a group of Soviet T-55 tanks attack. Shahzaman, an Afghan rebel fighter, assaults a tank with a bomb, killing the trapped crew. Konstantin Koverchenko, a driver from another tank and former scholar, runs over. Shahzaman aims his rifle at Koverchenko, but the gun is out of ammunition, and Koverchenko’s gunner, Kaminski, and gun-loader, Anton Golikov, capture him. Tank commander Daskal orders Shahzaman to be executed by running over him with the tank. Sherina, Shahzaman’s fiancée, pleads for Shahzaman’s life in her regional dialect of Pushtu, but Samad, the tank’s Afghan translator, stops her. Koverchenko hesitates to drive forward, but at Daskal’s final order, Koverchenko moves the tank and kills Shahzaman. Afterward, the tank leaves for Kandahar Road. However, at a split in the road, Daskal orders Koverchenko to go right, leading the tank into a dead-end valley. Meanwhile, Taj, Shahzaman’s brother, arrives at the village and finds his father, the village “khan” dead. When Sherina tells Taj that his brother was martyred, his uncle, Akbar, informs Taj that he is the new khan. Moustafa, Taj’s cousin and leader of a scavenger group, arrives and says the tank that killed Shahzaman is in the Valley of the Jackal. Wanting vengeance, Sherina gives Taj Shahzaman’s rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher. Moustafa says the weapon is capable of destroying a tank, and assures Taj he knows how to use it. Taj sets out with Akbar, Moustafa, and a group of men to track and kill the Russian soldiers. In the valley, as Kaminski and Golikov look over the damage done to the tank, Taj’s group attacks from a nearby cliff. Moustafa fires the RPG, but misses and the Russians escape. The tank stops at a watering hole and the crew poisons the water with cyanide. When the Afghans arrive, Daskal’s orders the gun to fire at Taj, but the shell does not fire. Evacuating the tank, Samad confesses he handed the shell to Golikov, causing Daskal to think Samad tampered with it on purpose. Daskal orders Golikov to unload the shell before it explodes, but Golikov is not able to do so. At Samad’s offer to take over for Golikov, Koverchenko insists on going and removes the undetonated shell. During the night, Koverchenko and Samad play chess by the campfire. Samad teaches the driver about “Pakhtunali,” a code of honor with three obligations: “Milmastia,” (hospitality), “Badal,” (revenge), and “Nanawatai,” (sanctuary), which is given to any who request it. When Koverchenko asks if that would ever apply to him if asked, Samad says it would, even to an enemy. Elsewhere, Taj and his men wander in the darkness. They come upon a man running around a bonfire. Seeing Taj, the man proclaims that a stone will kill “The Beast,” gesturing to the tank’s tracks in the sand. In the morning, Daskal orders Samad to stop his prayers and walks into a nearby river to gauge the depth. As Samad stands in the water, Daskal shoots Samad in the back. Daskal insists that Samad was a traitor because he was not Russian. After crossing the river, Daskal recalls that when he was eight years old, he fought against German Nazi tanks, earning him the nickname “Tank Boy.” Hearing Daskal’s ranting, Koverchenko believes his commander is losing his grip on reality. However, Daskal is convinced that Koverchenko is now an Afghan rebel sympathizer, and orders Kaminski and Golikov to tie him to a rock with an unpinned grenade under his head as a trap. Koverchenko pleads with Golikov to free him, but afraid of Daskal, Golikov returns to the tank. Crossing the valley, Daskal sees Kandahar Road on the other side of a canyon. As he orders Kaminski to halt, the tank runs out of fuel. Meanwhile, a pack of wild dogs find Koverchenko and chew at his ropes, freeing him and knocking the grenade away. Suddenly, Sherina and women from the village arrive, after following Taj throughout the valley. Seeing Koverchenko, the women throw stones at him. Recalling the code of honor Samad taught him, Koverchenko yells “Nanawatai.” The women stop, but Sherina continues throwing stones. Taj arrives and again Koverchenko says “Nanawatai.” Hearing Koverchenko’s plea, Taj frees him. In the evening, Moustafa tries to repair the RPG trigger, but is unable to. In Pushtu, Taj asks Koverchenko if he can fix it. Though limited in his understanding of Pushtu, Koverchenko takes the weapon and repairs it. Satisfied, Taj draws a picture of the tank and the RPG destroying it in the sand. Seeking to exact revenge on Daskal, Koverchenko agrees to help Taj. In the morning, Daskal flags down a Russian helicopter. The pilot offers to give the crew a ride back to base camp, but Daskal refuses to leave his tank and requests more fuel. Hearing Daskal, Kaminski and Golikov fear that Koverchenko was correct about Daskal’s state of mind. As the helicopter flies away, the tank heads back to the pass. From the cliffs, Taj gestures to Koverchenko that he knows a shortcut, where they can ambush the Russians before the pass. Arriving at the poisoned watering hole, Koverchenko and Taj find the Russian helicopter and its crew dead. Moustafa and his scavengers stay behind with the helicopter while Koverchenko and Taj go after Daskal. Running along the cliffs, Koverchenko assures Taj they are too high for the tank’s weapons. Koverchenko fires the RPG, hitting the tank gun muzzle. Suddenly, an explosion from the cliff knocks rocks on the tank, trapping the crew inside and breaking the treads. Looking up, Koverchenko and Taj see that grenades found by Sherina and the village women created the landslide. Inside the tank, Daskal unpins a grenade, in order to die as a hero. However, Kaminski and Golikov stop him, and the men leave the tank. At Koverchenko’s request of “Nanawatai” for his former crew, Taj lets them go. Kaminski and Golikov run away, but Daskal trips. Suddenly, Sherina and the women appear, and ignoring Koverchenko’s request for sanctuary, stone Daskal to death. Taj thanks Koverchenko and offers him his rifle as a gift. Just then, a Russian military helicopter arrives. Taj calls for Koverchenko to hide with him, but Koverchenko ignores his pleas and signals the helicopter to rescue him. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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