Johnny Depp & Mark Rylance in ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’ with Robert Pattinson

BY:  Rohn Romulo

JOHNNY Depp plays a ruthless colonel in the upcoming film, Waiting for the Barbarians.

The film’s official trailer has been released and it teases yet another promising role for Depp, acting as an antagonist opposite a nameless magistrate played by Oscar winner Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies).

As nameless magistrate of a frontier settlement at the outer reaches of a vast, unnamed empire. But as the magistrate prepares for an easy retirement, Colonel Joll — played by Johnny Depp with a pair of sinister-looking round sunglasses — arrives at the settelement with orders to secure the border against so-called “barbarians” on the other side of the wall.

Joll soon asserts a violent authority, conducting a series of tortuous interrogations that leads the magistrate to question his loyalty to the empire, especially once a beautiful girl (Gana Bayarsaikhan) becomes one of the victims.


Robert Pattinson also stars as an upstart officer who eagerly bends to Joll’s new regime. The rest of the cast includes Greta Scacchi, David Dencik, Sam Reid, Harry Melling, and Bill Milner.

The 1980 novel by South African writer J.M. Coetzee upon which Waiting for the Barbarians is based was apparently an acclaimed allegory for apartheid that argues for peace and inclusivity.

But the involvement of Depp, whose messy divorce with Amber Heard resulted in allegations of domestic abuse from both sides, and the troubling title makes this film feel like a remnant of a time when Orientalism and colonialism were abundant in prestige dramas. While the book, with its vague descriptors and fictional empires, was supposedly an argument against these issues, there’s something disquieting about this whole thing. But we shall see what happens when we get a chance to see it.

Waiting for the Barbarians is directed by Colombian filmmaker Ciro Guerra.

Two-time Academy Award winner Chris Menges was the cinematographer.

The film was produced by Michael Fitzgerald, Olga Segura, Andrea Iervolino of Iervolino Entertainment, and Monika Bacardi with executive producers Sir Martin Franklin, Cristina Gallego, Danielle Maloni, Deborah Dobson Bach, and Penelope Glass.

The film will be heading to Digital this August 7. For more information, check out the film’s official webpage.

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