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She, starring Ursula Andres, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee
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She (1965) starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Ursula Andres

Set in Palestine in 1918 “She“, relates the story of three wartime buddies — Major Horace Holly (Peter Cushing), Leo Vincy (John Richardson) and Job (Bernard Cribbons), who at the end of the war find themselves in the Middle East with no real desire to return home to England. Encountering a beautiful and mysterious woman called Ustane (Rosenda Monteros), one evening in a nightclub Leo is lured away and then knocked out. When he comes to, he discovers himself in a strange house where he encounters another beautiful woman, who calls herself Ayesha (Ursula Andress) — She who must be obeyed.

Ayesha reveals the purpose of why he was brought to her. She believes that he is the reincarnation of her lost love Killikrates from two thousand years previously and that if he can find his way to her mythical city of Kuma he will not only possess her but all the riches and glory he could ever want. Intrigued at the prospect,  Leo enlists the aid of his two friends and sets out with the aid of a map given to him by Ayesha to find the lost city of Kuma.

On the way to the city

She, starring Ursula Andres, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee

Along the hazardous desert trail, they encounter desert fighters who steal their water and camels and finally they are captured by the hostile Amahagger tribe, who believe in human sacrifice. Just as Leo is about to be sacrificed (since he resembles a portrait of Killikrates on a gold medal), they are rescued by the soldiers in Ayesha’s army led by her mysterious high priest, Billali (Christopher Lee).

Led to the lost city of Kuma, they are brought into the presence of the mysterious Ayesha who it turns out has discovered the secret of eternal life by bathing in a special blue flame that keeps her young and beautiful. It is revealed that in a jealous rage two thousand years before,  Ayesha killed her lover Killikrates in a fit of jealousy –and has lonely waiting for his return ever since. Ayesha seeing that Leo has survived the test of reaching her city becomes determined to share her secret of eternal life with him so that they can rebuild the glorious civilization of Kuma that she once presided over as Queen.

Despite her cruelty …

Ursula Andress and John Richardson in She

Despite her wanton cruelty to those that oppose her — including the unfortunate younger men of the Amahaggers and her servant Ustane, who are thrown into a flaming pit — Leo becomes bewitched by Ayesha’s beauty and the promise of eternal life. As Holly and Job are preparing to leave, however, the remaining Amahuggers break into the city led by Haumeid (Andre Morell) —  Ustane’s father. In the fighting, Billali — who has coveted the eternal life of the blue flame — is killed, and just as Leo joins Ayesha in the sacred flame suddenly something goes wrong.

Ayesha ages her full two thousand years and dies. Leo elects to remain in the city in the hope that the blue flame will return one day so he can reverse the process which has now given him this unwanted gift of eternal life — and separated him from She who must be obeyed — Ayesha.

Cast of characters

Editorial review of  She courtesy of

She has waited 2000 years for her lover to be reborn – the lover dead by her own hand! Luscious Ursula Andress stars in H. Rider Haggard’s classic tale of an ageless love goddess, ruler of a magnificent lost mountain realm, who discovers the reincarnation of her beloved in a handsome English adventurer (John Richardson). Promising riches and her seductive self, she lures him through countless perils into the Desert of Lost Souls, the Mountains of the Moon and a pillar of fire that grants eternal life. Famed horror team Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee co-star in this imaginative story of danger and desire.

Movie quotes from She

Major Horace Holly (Peter Cushing): War seems to have shot away all our roots.

Ayesha (Ursula Andress): You tremble, Billali?
Billali (Christopher Lee): The man who fears your wrath and does not tremble, is a fool, your queen. The man who does not fear your wrath and yet does not tremble in your presence, is not a man.

Major Horace Holly (Peter Cushing): I suppose there’s a time in everyone’s life when the idea of immortality seems very desirable. But now at my age I’d have to give it a great deal of thought.
Leo Vincey (John Richardson): What’s age got to do with it? You’d stay as you are.
Major Horace Holly (Peter Cushing): That’s not what I meant, Leo. What one would accept eagerly at your age doesn’t necessarily have the same appeal at mine. It’s the age of the mind that’s important, not the body. You see, you’re young. Still on the threshold of life. The joy of living is not to be denied, but to know that it’ll be there for all time, without change. Life at a standstill. It’s not quite the same thing.

At the city

Ayesha (Ursula Andress): [about Ustane] We must be rid of her!
Billali (Christopher Lee): I speak again, whatever risk to myself. To be rid of her would be simple, but unwise. If you are to prevail, It is the fair one who must banish her, who must turn against her. He is a man of soul and conscience. These you must destroy.

Maj. Horace Holly: All my life I’ve dreamed of finding a city such as this. But now that I have, I’d like to see it destroyed and all it stands for.

Leo Vincey (John Richardson): Was that barbaric execution necessary?
Ayesha (Ursula Andress): It was necessary!
Major Horace Holly (Peter Cushing): In God’s name, why?
Ayesha (Ursula Andress): As a demonstration of my absolute power! How else could I hold my soldiers and these pathetic creatures as my subjects? How else but by instilling fear and terror into their very souls.
Major Horace Holly (Peter Cushing): But nothing is gained by fear and terror.
Ayesha (Ursula Andress): Is your world so much better? Your world where men kill each other in their millions in the name of freedom? Your world that has not long to live. A few decades only before it destroys itself. Then, what will be left?

She who must be obeyed

Major Horace Holly (Peter Cushing): Will you tell me something? This women Ayesha, why do you all do her bidding without question?
Billali (Christopher Lee): It has always been so.
Major Horace Holly (Peter Cushing): Yes, but why? She’s only a woman and alone. You are men and many.
Billali (Christopher Lee): And like all men we are born, live a span and we die. But she has been here forever. She is like the mountains, like the desert. Changeless, ageless, deathless.

Major Horace Holly (Peter Cushing): That I cannot believe. In your fear you have accepted the impossible as truth. No-one lives forever. And no one was born to be the vassel of another. You know this too, I’ve seen it in your eyes. Your body does her bidding but your spirit cries out to be free. Is that not true?
Billali (Christopher Lee): Each one of us has his own destiny to fulfill.
Major Horace Holly (Peter Cushing): And yours, I suppose, is to fill the next alcove. I can’t believe you’re such a fool, Billali.
Billali (Christopher Lee): No, Mr Holly. I am not such a fool.

Major Horace Holly (Peter Cushing): [about the flame] It’ll come back someday.
Leo Vincey (John Richardson): When, Holly, when?
Major Horace Holly (Peter Cushing): That I can’t tell you, Leo. But you wanted immortality.
Leo Vincey (John Richardson): When it comes back, it will find me waiting.

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