Waiting for the Barbarians

Colonel Joll and the Magistrate

It’s a Sondheimian title, Waiting for the Barbarians – as in, “don’t worry, they’re here” – a story about the white man’s civilising mission on some distant frontier and how it gives licence to people whose instincts are far from civilised. The uniforms are deliberately non-specific but for the sake of argument we might as well say it’s the British who are in the spotlight, especially as Brit Mark Rylance is the star. He’s also almost the entire focus of a film about a kindly magistrate way out in the midst of a sandy nowhere whose humanist tendencies are crushed underfoot by the arrival of one badass after another. Enter Johnny Depp, in … Read more