China

 
The entrance to the Forbidden City then and now
The former Legation Area of Peking
Plan of the besieged Legation Quarter showing the locations of the diplomatic legations, and the defensive lines of the besieged. Most of the civilians took refuge in the British Legation.
 
As conceived for the film 55 Days At Peking (1963)
 

The only foreign street name in Beijing today, named after Sir Robert Hart- the British Inspector General of the Chinese customs service from 1863 to 1907.
    
The Nazi German consulate was located on this road as shown in this period John Kirk Sewall Pictorial Map of Peking
British Legation
The British Legation- then and now, serving as the Ministry of State Security. Here the majority of besieged diplomats, families and Chinese sheltered during the attacks against them by the Chinese state.


The remains of the Russian Legation, being destroyed as I last visited to pick up relics
 
What's left of the Dutch Legation 
 
US marines in front of the Tartar Wall with the Chien Men tower on the right, one of the gates into the Legation Quarter

 
Inside the former American legation compound, now hosting exclusive restaurants
Victory celebration of the Allies November 28, 1900 over the Chinese after the miraculous "55 Days in Peking" and at the same spot just over a century later during SARS (hence the near-empty site, despite the regime's attempts to make the epidemic a state secret)
 
The Qianmen gate after the siege 
 
The Japanese Legation, the Chinese flag defiantly flying above the current headquarters of the Beijing Municipal Government...
... and when the rising sun flew over 
Part of what had served as the Japanese legation
The former Yokohama Specie Bank
In front of the former French legation
The French post office
The former National City Bank of New York, now the Beijing Police Museum
 
The former National City Bank of New York
St. Michael's Church (also known as Dongjiaomin Catholic Church) was built during 1902 on the site of a church destroyed during the Boxer Rebellion
 
The Former Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China with its foundation date
The Summer Palace circa 1850 and now
 
Tiananmen during the May Fourth Movement and now 
During the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident in Lugouqiao outside Peking in Wanping
Chinese troops in Wanping and the east gate of the Wanping Fortress today and what was left of it after the Marco Polo incident. The fortress, 宛平城 is located at the eastern end of Marco Polo Bridge; the Museum of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression is located within its walls with a sculpture park outside of it decorated with numerous sculptures from the Kangxi Emperor's stelae to hundreds of stone barrels by Cai Xueshi inscribed with the list of crimes the Japanese inflicted upon the Chinese people.
Outside the so-called Memorial Hall of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression inside Wanping Fortress
The Great Wall from an 1887 set of engravings based on photographs taken by a soldier of Sir Frederick Bruce's Bodyguard 
 Chiang Kai-shek above the Tian'anmen Rostrum, replaced now for the time being, by Mao 
The Lingendian (Hall of Prominent Favour) at Changling in an 1871 photograph by John Thomson. This the largest of the thirteen Ming tombs, taking eighteen years to complete. The columns and pillars are made of Chinese cedar believed to have come all the way from Nepal.

Tibet
 
The British army entering Lhasa during the 1904 Younghusband Mission with me holding Chinese occupation money, showing how the city has suffered since. 
A closer look at the bill shows how much the regime needs to falsify the actual appearance
The Potala Palace  from the time of the 1938-1939 German Expedition to Tibet, a German scientific expedition from May 1938 to August 1939, led by German zoologist and ϟϟ officer Ernst Schäfer. Reichsführer-ϟϟ Himmler was attempting to avail himself of the reputation of Ernst Schäfer for Nazi propaganda and asked about his future plans. Ernst Schäfer responded he wanted to lead another expedition to Tibet. Ernst Schäfer wished his expedition to be under the patronage of the cultural department of the foreign affairs or of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft ("German Research Foundation") as indicated by his requests. Himmler was fascinated by Asian mysticism and therefore wished to send such an expedition under the auspices of the ϟϟ Ahnenerbe (ϟϟ Ancestral Heritage Society), and desired that Schäfer perform research based on Hanns Hörbiger’s pseudo-scientific theory of "Glacial Cosmogony" promoted by the Ahnenerbe. Schäfer had scientific objectives, and he therefore refused to include Edmund Kiss, an adept of this theory, in his team, and requested 12 conditions to obtain scientific freedom. Wolfram Sievers from the Ahnenerbe therefore expressed criticism concerning the objectives of the expedition, so that Ahnenerbe would not sponsor it. Himmler accepted the expedition to be organized on the condition that all its members become ϟϟ. In order to succeed in his expedition, Schäfer had to compromise.

Gyantse 1904: The British Liberation of Tibet
Finally. The complete legendary remastered print has been released after seven long years. Here it is in nearly all its glory; or at least the bits involving the greatest Empire ever shown on TV. Gyantse 1904- The British Liberation of Tibet.

Special 10th Anniversary Trailer
The Original Official Trailer

Part I

Scene 1: Introduction
Here we start with an aged David Austin, a good foot shorter than his younger version, with blue eyes and thick Aussie accent, who fulfils his dream of leaving the Outback to go to the very roof of the world to converse fluently with the Tibetans he so desperately wants to liberate from the vile clutches of the Chinese imperialists.

Scene 2: Beginning of a beautiful, tragic friendship

Supposed to be set in Calcutta in British India but for some reason the site is unmistakably Kathmandu. Notice the prevalence of jeans, T-shirts and mopeds in 1903 Nepal, far more modern and technologically-advanced than how it ended the century, as we are introduced properly to our hero- Austin- who literally bumps into the man who will haunt the rest of his life. Note the Indian soldiers; it is they that lost the jewel in the Imperial Crown as shown here.

Scene 3: Lord Curzon and Younghusband explain the proposed Liberation

This scene early in the first instalment of the inspirational Gyantse 1904- The British Liberation of Tibet starts in the meeting room of Lord Curzon's private residence in Calcutta June 18, 1903 and ends with his plan in his office. The cassus belli is clear- besides increasing Russian influence and continuing doleful oppression of the Chinese, as Curzon would write, the situation was now getting completely out of hand:
We now learn that Tibetan troops attacked Nepalese yaks on the frontier and carried many of them off. This is an overt act of hostility.
Scene 4: The British entering Tibet, 1903

Here we join Colonel Younghusband and his intrepid Scot interpreter David Austin (yours truly) as they lead the British into Tibet to liberate that unfortunate people from Chinese fascist, imperialist oppression. It is here that Younghusband levels the damning charges against the Tibetans- the Dalai Lama having the effrontery of returning Viceroy Curzon's letters unread, goats being stolen from the people of Sikkim to which Britain provides its benevolent protection, trade with British India being hampered at every turn, and the Conventions of 1890 and 1893 all but being spat upon. As Peter Fleming (Ian's brother) wrote in Bayonets to Lhasa, the Tibetans' behaviour "was based four-square on infantile obstinacy."

Scene 5: Fruitless Negotiations with those bloody Tibetans

The British see their indomitable patience and tolerance tested to the ultimate extreme by Tibetan recalcitrance and tricky backsliding. Again they are unable to find a friendly, peaceful solution and discover to their dismay that only force is understood on the roof of the world. What makes this scene all the more haunting is the reunion of Austin and Don Grub, representing two completely different worlds but at heart indefatigable patriots.

Scene 6: At stately Pha Lha manor

Younghusband tries to communicate with the head of Pha Lha manor in order to obtain lodgings and provisions before his historic meeting with the Dalai Lama.

Scene 7: Yet More Fruitless Negotiation with Tibetans

The British continue to see their indomitable patience and tolerance tested to the extreme by Tibetan recalcitrance and tricky backsliding. Again they are unable to find a friendly, peaceful solution and discover to their dismay that only force is understood on the roof of the world.

Scene 8: The misunderstanding at Chumi Shengo
 The tragic misunderstanding at Chumi Shengo (Qumei Xiankou) and the aftermath as I portray David Austin in homage to the performance of Eli Wallach as Tuco from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly without the benefit of an Ennio Morricone soundtrack. Former student Michael Connolly has an admirable cameo. The second part reveals the dénouement 

Part II


Scene 9: End of a Friendship

End to a remarkable friendship begins with savage violence and ends in a disturbing image of one looking wistfully at the other as he sleeps, thus changing the entire context of the film and covering it in ambiguity.

Scene 10: Under the stars with the General

Here after an imperial war council, I share a quiet word with General Macdonald in the darkness of a moonlit Tibetan forest.

Scene 11: No sex, please- we're Tibetans

The aged David Austin returns to his former haunts high in the Himalayas to hunt for his special lost friend from the past, Don Grub, who is shown in an obligatory romantic scene in which he appears to shun all contact with the weaker sex.

Scene 12: Yet more time-wasting with Tibetans



Another tedious round of negotiations with stubborn, intransigent Tibetans.

Scene 13: The strains show


Strains within Younghusband mission show between Younghusband and the head of the military forces intent on liberating the poor Tibetans from the nefarious Chinese.
Tibetans, who drink horrid butter tea and thus can ingest anything, are shown insulting the British by spilling out their tea. Given the past history of such insults dating from the Boston rebels, this obscene act demands a strong, resolute response.

Scene 14: The British being attacked by Tibetan thugs and suicide bombers

The Tibetan sneak attack of May 5, 1904 by reactionaries and the ruling class begins against Colonel Younghusband's peaceful, progressive mission in this thrilling scene from the epic 1904- The British Liberation of Tibet. Whilst Lt.Col. Brander is off with his force to Karo La, Younghusband and I are left vulnerable at our riverside camp at Changlo. In the second part I successfully run away from the Tibetans, while former student Michael Connolly dies for the first time in the film.

Scene 15: "Oh my God- The Stone-Throwers!"

Michael Connolly, as the only Caucasian member of the British army, is resurrected long enough to exclaim these immortal lines as British liberators murdered by terrorist suicide bombers on the roof of the world at Tsamdang (Red Idol) Gorge near Kala Tso salt lake. As Younghusband related in India and Tibet,
On the way to Gyantse, at the Tsamdang Gorge, the Tibetans again opposed our progress by building a wall across the narrow passage. But General Macdonald dislodged them and inflicted heavy loss, and on April 11 we arrived at Gyantse.
Scene 16: Colonel Younghusband and David Austin share an intimate moment

In this touching scene involving a cartoon featuring a lion about to shoot a rabbit, Colonel Younghusband explains the humane concerns of the British Empire to see Tibet free, modern, and able at last to import Newcastle brown ale.

Scene 17: British battle for Nenying temple

British forces heroically battle against the Buddhist stronghold of Nenying, fanatically defended by some crazy woman with a long, very sharp sword. All I really do is stand on top of a hill and mutter "tsk tsk tsk... the humanity" as I struggle to understand why...

Scene 18: Soul-searching in a remote Tibetan temple

Scene of aching beauty as Younghusband and Austin encounter each other in the recesses of a Tibetan temple, each with conflicting thoughts and desperate dreams. Rather like that scene from On the Waterfront.

Scene 19: Yet MORE fruitless negotiations with Tibetans

This time the Chinese send their own emissary to sow dissension and pervert harmony for their own ends. I serve as interpretor to this devious mandarin.The roots of the 1959 invasion and subsequent anschluss lie here.

Scene 20: Murder on a roof on the roof of the world

More evidence of Tibetan barbarism as forces in the pay of Chinese imperialists brutally murder a pair of Indian soldiers without reason or warning. I can only stand by and watch, impotently, before wandering away to ponder the vicissitudes of bringing civilisation and modernity to the benighted races of the world.

Scene 21: No more negotiations


Tibetan intransigence and Chinese perfidy are forced to make way for British resolve. 

Scene 22: The Battle of Gyantse
 
The British initiate the opening rounds of the final battle before finally being free to march on Lhasa and freeing Tibet once and for all from Chinese intrigue with only a couple hundred soldiers, but not before a unique British soldier valiantly gets slain after standing up on top of an hill for all to see. The battle concludes with the good guys finally vanquishing all stubborn opposition to modernity and development and liberate Tibet from Chinese control and oppression for the next half century. Again former student Michael Connolly (one of two Caucasians in the British army, and an Irishman to boot) gets killed again; the number of times he gets killed in this film outnumbers those of British Imperial forces who were killed during the entire mission in reality.

Scene 23: Aftermath

Austin is left marvelling at the terrific success of the Mission, with Britain easily throwing off the yoke of Chinese oppression and freeing Tibet so that she can at last know the benefits of Anglobalisation, free trade, civilisation, and Newcastle brown ale.


Scene 24: Epilogue

With the Chinese pleading with Britain and America to save them from the Japanese running riot in their country and demanding self-determination for themselves, a grateful Don Grub finally understands the purpose of Younghusband's Mission forty years later and ends the film thanking Austin profusely for Tibet's liberation.

Behind the scenes


 
Captain O'Connor in his Peugeot in front of Gyantse Dzong. In 1907 two motorcars were carried over the Himalayas into Tibet. One was an 8hp Clement brought as a gift for the Panchen Lama, the second highest ranking Lama after the Dalai Lama, who presided over Tashilhunpo monastery near Shigatse where we stayed whilst filming. At this time O'Connor (later to become Sir Frederick O'Connor) was posted to Gyantse as the British Trade Agent under the Anglo-Tibet Convention.  He had served in the Swat Valley and the Tirah campaign between 1897-1898, at Gilgit between 1899-1903, and as the Tibetan-speaking officer and secretary to Younghusband's Lhasa Mission between 1903-1904, staying on as the British Trade Agent at Gyantse. During his appointment in Tibet, O'Connor struck up a close friendship with the Panchen Lama and took him to Calcutta in 1905 to meet the later King George and Queen Mary. Upon his departure Captain O'Connor gave his car as a gift to the Panchen Lama and it is reported that the Panchen Lama shed tears when O'Connor left the country.  The Peugeot is pictured on the plain in front of the Gyantse fortress in F. O'Connor's On the Frontier and Beyond John Murray, 1931.