55 Days at Peking (1963) Script

Peking - China.

The summer of the year 1900.

The rains are late, the crops have failed, a hundred million Chinese are hungry and a violent wind of discontent disturbs the land.

Within the foreign compound a thousand foreigners live and work, citizens of a dozen far-off nations.

Priests and missionaries, bankers and businessmen, engineers and adventurers, diplomats, soldiers and students...

People with families, homes, jobs.

Many have lived here a lifetime and feel secure as they go about their daily routine.

What is that terrible noise?

Different nations saying the same thing, We want China.


Separated from the compound by only a wall and a gate, is the Forbidden City.

Here, in untouchable isolation lives the Dowager Empress, last of the Manchus.

Protected by an army of eunuchs, she holds court and confers with her ministers, mandarins and generals.

Halt the execution.

But Prince Tuan s orders!

Now you have my orders. The nightingale will recover.

The Court physician s arts will work.

Only yesterday I listened to its song.

The execution has been stopped.


Jung-Lu, Your Majesty,

I come to ask your displeasure.

My life instead of the Colonel s.

We cannot spare you.

I gave the order to fire on the Boxers.

They were burning missions, killing foreigners.

We have sad news.

The nightingale... it was your gift.

Do you remember, Jung-Lu?

I have not forgotten.

I live to serve Your Majesty.

How does the attack on the Boxers serve Her Highness?

If they are unchecked, foreign armies will fall on China. We are tens of millions.

Does the Empress believe that where the imperial Army has failed, the rabble will succeed?

Our Gods are with the Boxers. The nightingale is still.

I hear only the sound of crows.

Your Majesty, a violent wind is short-lived.

The Boxers have arisen like the wind and rain, and like the wind and the rain, will die.

May the Boxers be guided by the will of the gods.

About the Colonel, Your Majesty.

His end will be a sign, and a warning to the foreigners.

His death is of no consequence.

But his life has set my Prince against my General and this disturbs the morning s tranquility.

Let him die for this offense.

You are concerned, Jung-Lu?

If the Boxers fail, I will give the foreigners Prince Tuan s head.

Eyes front, soldier.

All right, Marines, eyes front!

We re almost in Peking, the capital city of China.

This is an ancient, highly cultured civilization, so donít think you re any better than them because they can t speak English.

A few Chinese words go a long way.

Repeat after me. The word for yes is shih.


The word for no is poo shih. Poo shih. it s the same here as anywhere else in the world, everything has a price.

Pay your money and donít expect any free samples.

Yes, sir.

Right turn!

Column... Halt!

We going to stop that, Major?

Stay right there!

Murphy! Yes, sir?

Ni hao.

Tell the Boxer chief I want to do business with him.

I want to buy the old man.

But he's not American.

Twenty dollars.

Hold it!

Tell him the old man must be alive.

Nothing if he s dead.

Forty dollars.

All right.

He s dead.

But he say you pay for spoiling the ceremony.

Nothing doing.

Twenty dollars.

Tell him I'll still do business.

I'll buy the dead Boxer.

Forty dollars.

Twenty dollars.

Did you fire that shot? Yes, sir.

Nice shooting, Sergeant.

Thank you, Major.

That'll cost you twenty bucks out of your pay. Fall in!

Alright... Fall in!

Take them to the barracks. Yes, sir.

Murphy! Sir?


Tell her Iím waiting.

I have sent her a note, Excellency.

You re the owner. Tell her.

Here s your key, Count.

Excellency, please.

As Russian Minister here I order you to get her down.

As you wish, Excellency.

But remember she is still a guest. I cannot order her.

Excellency, I think you need a cold drink.

And so do I. Champagne, sir?

How are you? it's been a long time.


Baroness Ivanoff!

Yes, Sergei?

You keep me waiting and then ignore me.

You are a little nervous, Sergei.

I suggest something cool for all of us.

Excuse me.


Thank you.

I won t talk about the necklace.

But you are.

As Russian Minister in Peking... Please, Sergei, speak as my brother-in-law.

Natasha, I've told Bergmann your visa s canceled.

So you cannot stay in this hotel.

Or in Peking or even in China.

By law you donít exist. That s frightening.

Where will you go?

To your Chinese friends?

How you hate me, donít you?

No, you re wrong.

I donít hate you.


You fool.

Is it my fault, if you lose everything and end up naked in the street...?

Not completely naked.

There s still the necklace.


She has to go today. Yes, sir.

I'll see to it.

Good evening.

I want a room with a bath this time.

Have you reserved, sir? You're late, Lewis.



When did you arrive?

Today. Why so late?

We walked the last 10 miles.

Donít the trains work now?

Gentlemen, the railroad is no more.

Major Lewis! Bergmann.

Is there a room for me? They re all taken.

But if you'll wait a short while... Fine.

Thanks, Chiang. Here you are.

Any time you need me.

Half my life s here. Take care of it.

And more of your lifeís here.

Oh, yes.

Let me use the bin.

Wont you open it?

Open it and you must read it.

Then you must answer.


Ah, Carlo! My dear chap!

Captain. You re late.

What kept you?

I lost 2 men. Had to bury them.

Come on, let's get a drink. Alright.

Try and get a room here too, Andy.

I want to look up the kid.

Ah yes, your little girl.

How old is she now? -11.

No, she must be 12.

It s a pity. No mother and practically no father.

What can I do?

She s in a French mission for Chinese orphans.

You re better than most.

You do try to see her.

But leaving her in a mission is no way to raise her.

But what do I do?

Take her to Illinois?

How would she make out there?

They'd treat her like a freak.

She s better off among her own kind.

You really think so? Sure.

May I have your key?

I need it for the American officer.

Thank you.

Besides, you have to live your own life.

I've just had an invitation.

Please sit down, Major.

Ask him and we'll drink together.

He d tell us his troubles.

What shall I tell you?

That you're happy Iím here.

You re very direct.

Iím a marine. Iím short on time.

How much is there for me?

All you want.

Have you found this approach successful?

Not really, no.

I donít know another.

Keep drinking, Major.

The uniform will hold you.

Clever women make me nervous. No, please...

Please donít go.

What can I offer you? My life?

My room.

They gave it to you.

Is that too much to ask?

My life isn't worth much, but hotel rooms here are at a premium.

Do you always offer your life to strangers?

To a soldier, strangers are the best friends.

Iím not in uniform, Major.

Things are fine as they are.

Major Lewis.

A British orderly to see you.

The Minister wishes to see you, sir.

He told me to tell you he s been authorized to act for your Minister.

Fine. Tell him I'll be right along.

Yes, sir.

Here s you key.


What about your things?

Put them back. But there s only one room.

Let the Baroness figure it out. She s clever.

Donít laugh yet, Major.

It s a very small room.

I've been in tight places before.

So have I, Major.

Daddy! Teresa!



Hello, Britten. Good day, sir.

Wake up, sentries!

Take a tip from an old soldier.

Whenever you see a Major of the American Marines, you will present arms.

And don't forget it!

If this be I, as I suppose it be, my little dog will know me.

Come in.

Iím, sorry, are you busy?

Of course I am. I always am.

Busier than usual? Or just busy?


Well, what s the pressing female problem?

Just this, Am I to pack or not to pack?

Do we go to England?

Do we leave this year or not?

I donít know.

You donít know...

Pack. If we donít go, all you need do is unpack.

If men had to do the packing, the world would be different.

If I had my way... What?

We d have packed long since and now be miles away.


A comforting thought.

Thank you, darling.

Will it all go up in flames?

Not if I can help it. What?

I'll put it in a nutshell.

If I encourage the Great Powers to be tough with China, China will become just another battlefield for them to fight over.

It s wiser to accept temporary humiliation at the hands of the Boxers in the hope that by damping down the fire, the kettle won t boil over.

And then?

I shall probably receive the Government s displeasure, and we'll be retired on an inadequate pension.

Remember what Napoleon said?

I never forget it.

Let China sleep.

' When she wakes, the world will tremble.

He said a lot, didn't he?

Come in.

Major Lewis, sir. Ask him to wait.

Darling, I have to put on my official face.

You havenít forgotten our soirťe?

Twenty-four bottles of champagne are already on ice.

Anything else the Sahib requires? The first waltz.

I'll consider it.


Major Lewis, Sir Arthur.

Stand up, sit down, or walk around the room.

I'll walk around. You please yourself.

I have an unpleasant task to fulfill.

First, congratulations on your initiative this morning.

We were a little late.

Unfortunate that a Chinese was killed.

A Boxer? A Chinese citizen, Major.

You re not in the Wild West now.

You can t shoot Chinese like red Indians.

No, sir.

Secondly, I warn you that such irresponsible behaviour, could easily involve us all in a great conflagration.

I understand.

And lastly, since your Minister is suffering from a diplomatic illness, you are required here no longer.

No longer required by whom?

This is a message from your own Legation.

I d be delighted if you stayed.

Yes, sir.

You know all hell s going to break loose?

If it does, it will not be because we have provoked it.

So we'll all just walk soft and hope for the best.

If we walked on our knees, we can t stop it.

I've just marched from Tientsin.

Boxers are everywhere.

Killing white men, missionaries, and all Chinese Christians.

The Imperial Army s doing nothing about it.

Boxers have been around for years.

You re unnecessarily alarmed.

Well, the next time I see them killing an English priest, I'll try not to be.

I've been a soldier myself. I understand how you feel.

But my job s to see the larger picture.

I wouldn't know about that.

I just patrol the rice paddies in the back country.

I know this much...

If the Boxers come, we'll need more soldiers in these compounds.

Well, now weíve both had our say.

I'll go quietly.

Oh, by the way, it s our Queen s birthday.

Tonight we re entertaining. Why not come?

Thank you.

I won t leave Ming. I'll pack him in my case.

Donít be silly. He d suffocate.

What s that? He d suffocate.

It s only for five weeks. Come on.

May we speak to you, father?

It s very important.

There are no negotiations at the moment. What is it?

Mother says we can't take Ming to England.

I wont leave my dog. He s my dog.

Who feeds him? Who taught him to sit up?

Tell you what. We'll cut him exactly in two.

You each get a half.

Father. Donít play King Solomon. Well, I tried.

Atten... shun!

Shoulder... arms!

Present... arms!

Slope... arms!

His Excellency, the Minister of Austria-Hungary and the Baroness Von Riedel.

Welcome, Prince Tuan, to Her Majesty s Legation.

I am deeply honoured.

His Imperial Highness, Prince Tuan.

I bring greetings from our Empress.

You are most welcome, Highness.

Greeting and felicitations to your great queen.

May the lions of China and Britain live in peace forever.

Our Queen is touched by the words of your illustrious Empress.

Your Imperial Highness, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the first dance will be the Military Two-Step.

Marvellous, fabulous.

They should be around my neck.

Of course, Sophie, you look naked without them.

Shall we join the line. No.

Not yet.

I've waited for this a long time, and Iím enjoying it.

Natasha, you blind us with your glitter.

Would you recognize me without them?

I understand you're going to Tientsin.

That's right, Excellency.

Thereís a Russian woman who wishes to leave Peking.

Anyone we know, Sergei?

She d do well to meet you.

It may be her only chance to reach Tientsin.

It might be...

If you disregard me the Russian government will remember.

Sir Arthur. Evening, Major.

Lady Robertson.

I wanted to thank you personally for trying to help Father Bemish.

You know the Baroness?

Yes, of course.

It s been a long time.

I know my husband has thanked you.

Yes, I've expressed my gratitude.

This is Baroness Ivanoff.

And Major Lewis. Your Highness.

You must be the American who had the encounter with the Boxers this morning.

It was the priest who had the hard time.

My government is most distressed.

But do not conclude that all Boxers are bandits.

Most of them are harmless vagabonds.

Market place entertainers, much like the gypsies in your country.

In fact, Sir Arthur, I have brought such a troupe to entertain your guests tonight.

Boxers here?

With your permission.

Of course, Your Highness.

He wants you to take this sword and try to strike him.

Try it. It s part of the performance.

If I kill a Boxer, does that, er... create a diplomatic incident?

There is no danger.

You've made your point.

Not quite.


I guess he wasn't a true believer.

It seems, Sir Arthur, that your troops are invulnerable.

Forgive me, but the Major doesnít seem to play the game according to Chinese rules.

I apologize, Sir Arthur.

I donít think he came here tonight to play games.

Good night.

Unfortunately, Sir Arthur, I must return to my duties at the palace.

No need to escort me.

Ladies and gentlemen, the next dance will be a waltz.

Aword, Sir Arthur. This is an insult to the British and a challenge to all Powers!

Areport will reach the Kaiser.

Her Majesty's Government is not alarmed by this Boxer invasion of its Embassy.

I shall complain to the Chinese ministry.

What will you do, Sir Arthur?

I intend to have a glass of champagne.

You know, I admire Sir Arthur.

He makes me think that God must be an Englishman.

We go and we go and we don't get anywhere.

Why not head back to the hotel?

Are you tired, Major? Tired? No.

Ready to turn in? Maybe.

Ever been inside this temple?

Wed get a better drink at the hotel.

Very interesting. Can we go now?

But we havenít had our dance yet.

Shall we?

What'll you do in Tientsin?

I'll be entirely in your hands.

You are now but you keep slipping through my fingers.

I think Iíll get you to take me to San Francisco with you.

Why to San Francisco?

It s where they found all the gold.

Just a minute.

What s that trinket worth? A lot of money.

We won t leave today. They've killed the German Minister.

But Matt, we must leave... I have to leave.

You have to wait.

Your sword, Sir Arthur.

You are well, Sir Arthur?

If you are, Your Majesty.

We are pleased to receive you. It s an honour, Your Majesty.

We have been informed of the German Minister s death.

The Boxers will be punished.

But the people s anger cannot be quieted so easily.

The Germans have seized Kiaochow, the Russians Port Arthur.

The French have obtained concessions in Yunnan, Kwangsi and Kwangtung.

In all, thirteen of the eighteen provinces of China are under foreign control.

Warships occupy our harbors, foreign armies fill our forts, foreign merchants administer our banks, foreign gods disturb the spirits of our ancestors.

Is it surprising our people are aroused?

Please allow me to observe that Boxer violence cannot redress China s grievances.

China is a prostrate cow!

The Powers are butchering her for her meat.

If China is a cow, she is indeed a marvellous animal that gives both meat and milk, but at the same time grows stronger.

She learns Western arts of peace.

But China s greatest virtue is her patience.

If she exercises that now, she will achieve everything.

And if not?

If not, if violence and impatience prevail, the blood of millions will be shed and the agony be prolonged.

Go to the window, Sir Arthur.

Iíve arranged something for you to see.

Please inform your government that Chinese justice is swift and thorough.

Those men murdered the German Minister this morning.

Where lies the guilt?

With he who wields the sword or who gives the command?

You know who gave the command?

With your permission, I d like to present an eyewitness.

By all means, Sir Arthur.

Major Lewis, Your Majesty.

Evidently, Major, you possess secret information about the Boxer leadership.

It s not much of a secret.

Please go on, Major Lewis.

I saw the Boxer commander this morning.

The one who had the Minister killed.

You would know him?

It was Prince Tuan.

You believe this story?

I do, Your Majesty.

And you ask us to take action against Prince Tuan?

Iíve come here with the truth now known by the German government and the other Powers.

We reject your truth. And your protest.

We are pleased to inform you that Prince Tuan is our closest adviser.

He now heads the Foreign Office.

For our part, Great Britain wants nothing more than continued friendship with China.

Because of the drought, the hunger and the unrest among my people, of the merciless demands of the foreign powers, the situation in Peking cannot be expected to become tranquil.

Therefore we earnestly advise you that all foreign residents, including diplomatic personnel, should leave Peking within twenty-four hours.

Is Your Majesty informing me that she is severing all diplomatic relations?

Not at all.

Her Majesty was clear enough.

She is offering informal advice for your safety and protection.

I am in favour of that. Major.

She can't control the Boxers. We d better get out.

Prince Tuan, you will see that these gentlemen are escorted safely to their Legations.

We d do better on our own.

Do we walk? Yes, very slowly.

Keep walking.


Double time.

Thought you d need some help. Thank you.

Count the votes.

We're awaiting the American Minister.

Oh, Mr. Maxwell.

Hello. Hello.

Sorry to have got you up, but we need your vote, on staying in Peking or not.

The United States have no territorial concessions in China.

Nor are we interested.

I d better abstain, Sir Arthur.

I understand, Mr. Maxwell.

I just wanted you to be here.

Congratulations, gentlemen. It's unanimous.

Nine votes in favour of evacuation.

Great Britain has decided to stay.

Alone if necessary.

That s not possible.

We d look ridiculous if we left the British alone in Peking.

Perhaps Britain has its reasons for being the only foreign power in Peking.

Our friend is right.

They may have secret reports.

Iíve made it completely clear.

Admiral Sydney is on his way with several thousand men.

Heíll be here in 9 or 10 days.

Meanwhile, I refuse to worry about the Boxers giving a victory to Prince Tuan.

Then the Germans stay too.

Sir Arthur, we Spaniards fulfill our obligations.

There s no word for flight in our dictionary.

We feel obliged to protect the civilians who depend on us.

I recognize that obligation, GuzmŠn, and I believe that if we stand united the Chinese won't dare to attack the representatives of 11 great Powers.

If we stand firm, there'll be peace in China and in the whole world.

Spain is with you.

If the other Powers stay, so will Austria.

Congratulations, Sir Arthur. The British win another bloodless victory.

I take it Youíve unanimously decided to stay?

I shall report that the first vote was9 to 1 and that in a friendly spirit it was then decided to make the decision unanimous.

Well, then I suggest we call in the military.

This way, gentlemen.

Colonel Shiba will give the report.

As to the military aspects, we have agreed that with fewer than 400 men, to defend a 2-mile perimeter, the position is untenable.

We recommend immediate evacuation.

For political reasons the Ministers say we must remain.

So you must defend the area until Admiral Sydney s forces arrive.

Sir, what if the relief column doesnít make it?

It s over 70 miles through hostile territory.

Weíll consider that situation when it arises.

We have 5 defense sectors.

The wall defended by the Germans and Americans, the west end, the British Legation, the Fu, held by the Americans and Japanese, and the east end, held by the Italians and French.

Boxers? Yes.

Where the hell are they? All around us.

Their purpose is to make us nervous.

Once the shooting starts Youíll see them outside that wall.

Who's nervous?


You cant have them!

But Sarah, we agreed.

We need the books for barricades.

Not the Set of the Napoleonic Wars.

Mother sent them for your birthday.

I must confess that French history bores me.

English history? Bah!

Go away. The shop is closed. It s Baroness Ivanoff.

I thought all Peking's doors were closed to me, that I d lost face in the Chinese streets.

Our Empress has those same fears, Baroness.

The Boxers.

It is hoped her wisdom will prevail.

I got your message, old one.

Your friend thinks you should leave Peking.

Which friend, old one? General Jung-Lu.

It was not possible before.

We would have been accused of meddling in Russian affairs.

And now?

Now... it makes no difference.

The Boxers will attack.

If you disappear in the confusion who d be left to point a finger?

At 5 p. m. the fighting will have begun.

Youíll meet a man at the corner of the French Legation.

Heíll be wearing a green peasant jacket.

You will be there?

Go up on the ramp and take a look. Yes, sir.

I donít like this. Donít worry.

Tell those men to get their backs into it.

Whoa there.

Where are you going? Iím getting out of Peking.

Those Boxers out there are angry.

Not with me. We have 200 rounds each.

That s 20 per man per day. Enough for warming up.

They d better start out warm.

Yes, sir. Iíll tell them.

Get out before I get mad!

Mad Americans inside, mad Boxers outside, mad Russians there...

Iíll risk going out.

I split the men in 2 platoons. 4 hours on, 4 hours off.

The sergeant will take the first watch.


I wanted to go to Tientsin but you prefer to stay.

I wear a uniform. They pay me for that.

Go on then.

And get out of my way.

Have a nice war, soldier, a real nice war.

Where do these go?

Where do you think? Get up on that wall!



Let s go!



Cease firing. Cease firing.

We did it! We beat them!

What if they come back?

Weíve used over half our ammunition.

Are you good with a slingshot?

A friend of yours?


Can you open the door? You cant go through, ma'am.

That was bad luck.

Iíll be all right. Iíll be right back.

What do you make of her? This is quite a weapon.

What would you call it?

Across between an alligator and an ostrich.

We call her Betsy after the Empress.

It s an old German barrel with Russian shells of approximately the same caliber.

The carriage is Italian, the wheels French, and that boy's fool enough to fire it.

Would it be safer in front or in back?

The point is where is Betsy going to be fired?

-Major... Please, gentlemen.

Captain Marshall... What's up?

The Chinese are on top of the wall.

Now we know where Betsy goes. You! Over here!

Come on, bring it along.


Cone on, Andy, run!

Sergeant, get in. Take cover.

Damn it!

What happened?

We tried but they re too many. They keep coming.


How many did we lose? Turner and Spencer.

5 wounded. The Germans got it even worse.

Why donít they rush us right now?

We wouldnít stand a chance.

Maybe they think Weíve got millions of men.

Come morning they'll think different.

Theyíll roll down those ramps like Niagara Falls.

We must get them off this wall...

We can t.

Or Theyíll shoot into the Legation area.

Like fish in a barrel.

We might just as well open the gates and let them in.

Take the French priest to the Legation.


They wont start up here till morning.

Just hope they donít.

No sign of activity? No, sir.

They're all asleep.

Well, we'd better not be.

Better wake them all up. Yes, sir.

Wake up.

Good morning.

Good morning.

Good morning.

Good morning.

Good morning.

Here they come!

Keep rolling! Keep rolling!

Andy, get down.

Major, what are we doing here?

Why didnít we get out? I donít know.

I really donít know.

Handley told me you re-took the wall.

I suppose you heard... He died too.

The Minister can tell us why.

And Marshall, too. He has all the answers.

That s all, sergeant.

Get on back.

He s a good soldier.

When he knows why heís fighting.

When it s something you can see... a wall, a hill, a river, it s easier.

But how can you explain it s for a principle?

You cant.

Not here in China.

It s too far from home.

I know.

I wont stay.


I won t stay!

Donít let...

Donít let them take my leg.

Tell them...

Tell them not to...



Tell them! There, there.

I donít want to live like half a man.

He s only fainted.

You can go now.

Can you save his leg?

May I stay with him?

Your dress is a breeding-ground for germs.

What re you waiting for?

Take it off and put on a uniform.

Thank you, doctor.

Who'll tell her?

The captain s little girl.

It s pretty late now.

Tell her in the morning.

But she might hear about it from somebody else.

I guess not.

Let s get a drink first. No, later.


Iím going back to the wall. Wait.

All right.

Where'll I find her?

With the orphans in the Fu.

How do I tell her?

Like she was your own, I guess.

Like someone telling your own kid.

Do you know which one she is? No.

So many new children came in today.

Havenít you met her?

Just once.

I cant remember what she s like.

I didnít pay much attention.

Major Lewis.

We re looking for the Marshall girl.

Ah, of course. Yes, Teresa... I heard.

I guess she must be sleeping, eh?

Please tell her in the morning.

It s important you tell her, Major.

She knows you were her father s friend.

I'll wake her.

Here she is.

A friend of your father's to see you.



Do you remember me? Yes, Major.

I have something to tell you.

Why donít the two of you stay here and talk?

You know there s been some fighting?


I have something to tell you.

Is it about my father?


Is he... dead?

Did you know?


you knew he was a soldier.

It could happen at any time.

Youíll be taken care of.

You won't have to worry.


Youíll be all right now, huh?

Wont I be going home then?


To America. He said he d take me home.

He did?


Every time.

And just today again.


I don't think you d like it.

Everything's very strange.

Things are all different. The people, and the food, the houses, the schools.

If you want, we can talk some more in a few days, when things quiet down.

I promise.

All right.


Think she understood?

When a mother dies, a child feels deserted.

When a father goes away, a child feels abandoned.

She s had more than her fair share. She understands too well.

What else could I have told her?

A child understands only one language... love.

Well, she isnít mine.

They say that every man is the father of every child.

I suppose it's only true if you really feel it.

The British Admiral and his forces are trapped between Langfang and Anping.

The Boxers do not climb a tree to look for a fish.

They have done their work well.

The railway is destroyed.

He can neither proceed nor retreat.

You see, the Boxers are not as useless as you believed.

It does not require courage or skill to rip up a few rails.

The Boxers flee the foreigners.

If Sydney cannot use the railway, he will now march on Peking.

I expect him within the week.

It is true.

The Boxers cannot stop such a force.

Only General Jung-Lu's Imperial troops can do that.

They have no part in this uprising.

The troops will do as Her Majesty commands.

Who can make muddy water clear?

Your Majesty, first they said the Boxers would destroy the foreigners in two days.

Next that no foreign army would even approach the city.

If we commit the Imperial Army against Sydney, we shall be declaring waron all the Powers.

Our armies, for all their courage, could not win such a war.

The Boxers have created an opportunity for a great Chinese victory.

If our troops destroy their forces, it will prove that China is no longer helpless, and be the beginning of freedom.

Each speaks with the voice of a patriot.

Prince Tuan counsels a reckless adventure, General Jung-Lu counsels prudence and patience.

Prudence and patience for what?

China's condition can be no worse.

Even if we start a war and lose it, what more can the powers take?

General Jung-Lu, you will command our troops and turn back the foreign armies.

Stop it, Tommy.

Youíll wake the baby. You can t talk. You re dead.

Donít play at that end.

Oh, Tommy!


Mummy! Mummy!

Heíll die without going home.

Funny how he used to talk about home, as if he remembered how it was.

As if heíd actually been there.


He used to ask me about it.

He mustn't die. Poor Tommy.

Yes, and poor us too.


Iíve the strangest feeling.

What is it?

Do you think if a child dies without going home, that his soul doesnít rest?

I think it goes into limbo.

An enormous, empty Chinese limbo, wandering there, lost and crying.

Heís fine. Why doesnít he wake up?

The doctor says he s in a coma.

It may last several days.

He may not come round at all...

He may never come round.

Why? Why?

How did he sin? Against whom?

What s he doing in this foreign place?

Whose ambition is he serving?

Must a child die to serve the ends of ambition?

Who d gain from his death?

Who'd be the happier for it?

How many children must die, how many people suffer, before there is an end?

A child s life is too high a price to pay.

I cant stand it!

I cant stand it!

Sarah, try to understand Understand what? Tell me!

Tell me! I feel the pain too.

Have you ever been to England?




Is it a beautiful city?

I wouldnít call it beautiful.

But, you know how it is, coming from a far place.

Go to sleep now.

Dream of Manchester. It would be like a visit home.

Litnoff is the Tsarina s second cousin.

You cannot treat him like a common soldier.

The bullet wasnít afraid of wounding a Count.

Germs wont care if he s her first cousin.

Heíll be treated like any other man here.

Good day, Baron.

I understand you are here early and late.

A true angel of mercy.

The men won t be... Quiet!

...nursed by anyone else.

I've always had a way with men.

Even with the German doctor.

He can t do without me.

And the Major?

The American?

What do you want?

I d like to be present when he finds out what you are.

Youíll be present.

Youíll tell him. You're just waiting for the moment.

Where is it?

Right here.

Open the door.

Hello, Sir Arthur. A message from Admiral Sydney.

Welcome, Reverend Michaelson.


Where is it? I hope I haven t lost it.

Where did you see the admiral? Here it is.

Weíll have to decode it. Come with me.

With a column of 2,200 men we came by rail to Anping, where we were driven back by a large contingent of Chinese Imperial forces.

Our troops were decimated and we lost a huge amount of equipment.

'It is impossible to march on Peking, so we must fall back to Tientsin,' along the River Peigei.

'Signed, Harold Sydney'. Is there nothing more?

What shall we do now? What shall we do?

You've eaten nothing.

Have something now. Thank you, Sarah.

Need more light?

No, thank you.

You asked me why we were here.

Why we hadnít left.

Iím sorry. I shouldnít have.

Sometimes it s good to wonder why.

These last few hours it s all Iíve done.

What about?

First, Who am I?'

Second, What have I achieved in 20 years of diplomacy?'

Third, Am I a good diplomat, or a failure, only fit for a minor post in Peking?

Fourth, Have I honestly tried to avoid war with China,' or have I only tried to make a name for myself?

Fifth, Am I a fool in search of adventure, or a sensible man' who s taken a risk?

What kind of father am I to put my family s lives in danger?

Am I acting like some god playing with the fate or others?

I've been with you since you started your career.

I know what Youíve been through and I know you well.

Only an honourable man says such things.

Excellency. I was just leaving, Major.

We were talking about the good times.

Donít go.

My brother-in-law is eager to tell you something.

This is a family matter. Donít discuss it before strangers. Donít play games.

Get it over with now.

We were talking about my dead brother, her husband.

I'm not interested.

How do you suppose he was? Like me?

Fat, past middle age?

Something like that.

The youngest Colonel in our army.

With a brilliant future.

The Tsar himself had taken notice...

Do you know why he died?


Go on.

I cant... It suddenly seems...

He was drunk and had an accident.

Let s forget it.

They said it was my fault.

His family tried to take away all I had.

Donít you believe me?

I guess a man gets what he deserves.

What can I offer? A soldier s pay?


A soldier's pay buys a soldiers woman.

An urgent message from Her Imperial Highness.

'Therefore, in view of the aggression of the armed forces' of Great Britain, Germany, Russia, France, the United States, Japan, Italy and Austria

' under the command of Admiral Sydney, the Imperial Chinese Government demands the immediate and unconditional surrender of the armed forces of these nations

' and of all their weapons.

We will await your reply.

I believe, Sir Arthur, that you are the architect of our dilemma.

What do you propose?

I think you should all know the military facts.

We have had almost 100 casualties, that is about 25% of our forces.

Over half our ammunition is gone, food is low, medical supplies are non-existent,

and by a reasonable estimate it will take 4 or 5 weeks to assemble forces on the coast to fight through to Peking.

What is your answer?

We are all aware of our own weakness.

Iíve been thinking about the Chinese.

Prince Tuan persuaded the Empress to commit her troops in the hope of an easy victory.

And he allowed Michaelson through with Sydney's letter hoping we d collapse.

The ultimatum means he s promised our immediate surrender.

Now, if instead of collapsing we show unexpected strength, and not only hold out but attack, we may destroy Tuan s influence with the Empress and force her to face reality.

This is a man of faith.

He thinks if we blow our trumpets, the walls of Peking will collapse. How many trumpets do we have, Major?

I donít know, Baron.

But Sir Arthur has a good idea about the Empress...

About the Empress, understand there must be no attempt on her life.

I wouldnít even know where to start.

I donít want her killed.

You don't want!

It would mean chaos.

Wed be fighting here for the next 20 years.

Do you have a better idea?

I give you my word, it would only enlarge the war.

You re the diplomat.

But let us fight the battles.

Come on, Colonel.

What do you think? Well...

Iím thinking that

if you re thinking what I think you re thinking, then...

Iím afraid I must agree with Sir Arthur.

They re using the big guns.

The Empress has committed her troops.

Get everybody into the compound.

Here, take her.

Arthur, Tommy s all right!

He just woke up and spoke to me.

He s going to live!

He s going to live! Live?

You wanted to avoid a war and Weíve got one.

You wanted to wait for Sydney.

Sydney isnít coming.

You say we should attack. Attack whom?

The Imperial Army? And with what?

With 115 rusty guns?

Iíve heard Tuan is preparing a victory celebration tonight in the Imperial Courtyard.

I suppose we're all invited?

Rather than surrender, we must make Tuan lose face.

We could blow up the palace.

The Chinese have an arsenal near the Imperial City.

We could... Iíve heard of it.

Blow it up during their party. It's behind their lines.

Then Weíll go under their lines.

How? Look at your map.

We could get to it via the sewer and blow it up when Tuan s telling the Empress we've been defeated.

It's through here. Getting back is another matter.


You donít need genius to crawl up a sewer.

We can t get away.

Weíll be blown sky high.

Iíve got to cut it.

It s too short.

If we light it we won t get clear.

Get those two ends joined.

I suppose you have come to report the destruction of the Legations, for the tenth time since the last moon.

I have come to ask Your Majesty s permission to impeach General Jung-Lu as a friend to the barbarians.

It s true he turned back the foreign admiral, but he has guns the Boxers need yet refuses to lend them, despite your commands.

Be silent.

General Jung-Lu.

Despite the empty promises of the Boxers, the foreign devils grow stronger.

Even the Forbidden City is no longer safe.

Underestimating the enemy is a great calamity.

You will speak to the foreigners, Jung-Lu.

Tell them peace is a great blessing and that no calamity is greater than lightly engaging in war.

Have they called off the war? Throw a line.

Here, what have we got?

A message for each of the Ministers from Jung-Lu.

They want a truce.

We spoiled the Empress s party.

She s just as likely to decide to finish us off.

What does it say?

'We are disturbed by the arrival of troops at Tientsin'.


Unless they are withdrawn, I must consider it an act of war and will commit the Imperial Forces. '

Allied troops in Tientsin.

But they must think we re dead. Only 70 miles away.


If we could get word to them...

You mean if I could get word to them.

Oh, no.

Old soldiers never volunteer.


Iím going away.

When? Right now.

Iím waiting, Baroness.

Where are you going? To get help.

The patient is waiting!

This is not a reception hall.

Will you come back?

Sure, if I can.



What does he want?

Do you think people can change?

That s something I can t study under a microscope.

You look wonderful. You shaved. You noticed.

Get me some adhesive please.

Iím going now.

You said that.

Yes, I know but...

So long.

Wait a minute.

We never did get a chance to talk?

Look, I have to go somewhere but...

Iím coming back.

Like my father.

Iím coming back. We'll talk then.

All right?

Come on.

Where s that other bottle of ether?

You say that every day. There was one.

We used it over a week ago.

And the morphine? It s all gone. You know it.

Well, Weíll have to operate on the Italian regardless.

He may faint and feel nothing.



This is empty!

Iím sorry.

Donít stand there. Get me another bottle.

This was the last bottle.

No alcohol, no iodine, amateur nurses...

We re back in the Dark Ages.

No ether for anesthetics, no morphine for pain.

We are in the land of opium and there are no opiates.

Look out!

Rogers, are you all right?

Major, Iím hurt. I'm hurt bad.

Iíll get you back.

Death s about and yet your door is open.

Open or closed it cannot protect either of us.

Old man...

Life and death, are they important?

Not to the gods.

There are many men dying. In pain.

They need drugs.

I do not deal in opiates.

There are others who do.

The Chinese outside can only help you now.

Even in war, old man, a valuable gift can work miracles.

I want the drugs today.

And a wagon full of fruit for the children.

Come on, Charlie. Rest here.

Let s see what s in here.

All right, open it up!

How did you do it?

To your positions.

The truce is over!

It s all right. We made it.

Get him to hospital.

I didnít make it.

Major, I heard you were back.

Off you go.

Major, Major, wake up! Wake up! The railroad... tracks are much closer.


How close are they? Almost to the wall.

All right.

Get me a shirt.

Did you hear about the Baroness? No.

She was shot.

What? She s in the hospital.

Major, we d better hurry.

Yes... Yes.


Donít take it so hard, doctor.

You must let me try again.

Soon it will be too late.

Youíve done all you can do.

I must find the focus of the infection.

You wont find it with a knife, doctor.

Donít you want to live?


I have lived.

Donít think of anything except living.

Give yourself a chance.

A chance?

A chance for what?

A chance to do it all over again?

No, thank you, doctor.

If you die the light will be gone from this place.


You're... the one who makes all the light here.

Forgive me when I say that

working with you Iíve learned to care for You very much.

Iím glad you said that, Hans.

A woman likes to hear it.

Most men havenít the courage to say it.

They re closer now than when I left.

If it was for a gun, they wouldnít come so close.


Get Father de Bearn.

Yes, sir.

What is it, Major?

Ever seen anything like that?

I certainly have not.

You can t stop that with rifles.

But we have to stop it.

Get me those urns from the tower, coal oil and some black powder and empty champagne bottles too.

Right now, put it down here, not there.

Pick up those bags.

Where are those bottles and the powder? Come on, hurry!

That s it.

With a little prayer and a lot of luck...

Bad luck. You werenít praying hard enough.

Give me that.

Here you are. Thank you.

Come on. We'll pray harder, Father.


It must be terrible to be a soldier.


Sometimes it is.

I was looking for you.

The Baroness is dead.

Nothing to say?

She didnít mean much to you.

Shut up!

Sorry. Let me alone! Let me alone!

I just heard. Iím sorry.

Thank you.

Well, we bought ourselves another day.

Still, it wasnít a bad fight.

What time is it?

5.37 a. m.

August 14th, 1900.

How many days did we hold out?


Those guns! They re not Chinese!


They re ours! It s the relief forces!

They re ours!

They re ours!

They re here! They re here!

They re ours! They re ours!

Water can support a ship.

And water can upset it.

The dynasty is finished.


They re playing different tunes.

Well, for 55 days we played the same tune.

Fifty-five days you held us together.

You might have started something that people will remember some day.

We re ready. Iíll be right there.

Will you stay in China?

Oh, I go where they send me.

How about you?

Iíll be going home to England.

Retired to private life, I suppose.

In the country with a dog and a few books.

An Englishman s dream, really.

What s home for you?

I donít know.

I may have to make one.

Good luck, Matt.


Right shoulder... arms!

Here, take my hand.

Forward ho!