Colonel John Henry Patterson is the main protagonist of the 1996 action/adventure/thriller film The Ghost and the Darkness. He is a military engineer who specializes in building bridges and hunting.
Little is known of Colonel Patterson's background, other than that he grew up to become a military engineer and longed to see Africa. He married a woman named Helena, who became a school teacher. Patterson built bridges in multiple countries, garnering an impressive record and became an experienced hunter.
The Ghost and the Darkness Edit
Colonel John Henry Patterson made his debut in the film in London meeting with Robert Beaumont, a knight and his new employer, who instructed him to go to Tsavo in East Africa and build a bridge over the river there to help accomplish their goals. Patterson received a very cruel speech from Beaumont following his revealation that his wife, Helena, was three months pregnant, but bluntly asked for any further words of encouragement before leaving. At the train station, he and Helena bid each other farewell, before he departed for Africa. When he arrived, he was met by Angus Starling, Beaumont's assigned aid for Patterson, who he travelled with to Tsavo, along the way pointing out incredible facts about the various animals they saw. Whe they arrived, Patterson was introduced to Samuel, a muslim trusted by all the workforce, who showed him the bridge site. Acknowledging that what he saw was more difficult than he had imagined, Patterson expressed that his job was better than any other. Later, at the hospital, they met Dr. David Hawthorne, who informed Patterson of the presence of a man-eating lion that had attack one of his men earlier. Patterson told him he would try and sort it out that evening when asked. Starlign wanted to come with him, to which he agreed, and Patterson later joked at him about the lion when he wanted to leave. However, after the lion arrived, Patterson killed it with one shot, impressing Starling and earning the trust of his men. Discussing how to build the bridge with Starling and Mahina, his new foreman, Patterson humorously played on the latter's statement of killing a lion with his hands while talking to Starling. Over the next nine weeks, the work get done much quicker than Patterson had thought, and he praised Mahina in a letter he wrote back to his wife. Unfortunately, bad luck soon began to strike, as another man-eating lion appeared and killed Mahina.
After his cremation, Patterson, saddened by his foreman's death, sat up that night, hoping to get a shot off at the lion, but missed his chance in his sleep and it killed another man walking at night. Seeing his men bickering the next day, Patterson questioned why they were not working and, after learning of the second victim, ordered a strict after dark curfew and told Abdullah to send half his men with Samuel to help guild boma fences to surround the camp and keep the lion out so that he could kill it. Following a rude comment from him, Patterson told Abdullah that it would be unwise to not work together. For the next week, no further victims were killed. One day, Patterson received a letter from Helena, which he enjoyed while, unknown to him, the lion was watching him from the tall grass. Soon, another lion began an attack in broad daylight, and Patterson came running. Grabbing his and Samuel's rifles, they head for the direction of the victim, Before he could kill the lion, the other appeared and clawed his arm, also killing Starling, before the both fled. Quoting a passage from the bible over Starling's body, Patterson mourned his dead friend. His attempts to kill the lions failed continuously, and the victim count raised to thirty steadily. On the day Beaumont was to arrive, Patterson argued with Abdullah about the lions and managed to trick him into making his men stay when they were all ready to leave on the train. Beaumont was very displeased with how things were and asked Patterson how he planned to deal with the lions, to which Patterson revealed his boxcar trap. Beaumont threatened that if he had to return for things being the way they were, he would fire Patterson and do anything he could to ruin his reputation. When he mentioned that he would find the legendary big-game hunter Charles Remington to help kill the lions, Patterson expressed his wish that Remington be there, but declared openly that he would kill the lions before he arrived, and Beaumont left.
However, Patterson still continued, even with his new trap, to kill the man-eaters, and the kill count rose to over forty. One day, he enlisted poachers to sit in the boxcar while he sat in a tree. This worked, bu they failed to even wound it once. The next day, Patterson angrily reprimanded them, and found his life in danger by Abdullah and his men. However, Charles Remington arrived and saved his life. Surprised by Samuel's revealation that he and Remington were old friends, Patterson thanked the legendary hunter and agreed to let him run the hunt from then on. Remington first had Dr. Hawthorne set up a new hospital, and later, while the Masai had their bravery celebration, Patterson learned of his tragic past. Afterwards, Patterson and Samuel accompanied Remington and his Masai hunters to kill one fo the lions, but it worked its way to him only for Patterson's gun to misfire. Remignton drove it away and the Masai, believing the lions to be demons, left. Later, Patterson and Remington agreed to sit up in the old hospital that night, increasing the lion's temptation to come back there by coating the building with blood and littering the ground with dead cow parts. However, they fled after being shot at and killed everyone at the new hospital, including Hawthorne. Afterwards, all the remaining workforce left, and Remington told Patterson his design for the bridge was beautiful. Informed by the old hunter of some fresh pugmarks, Patterson and Remington decided to go after them. Along the way, Patterson listened to Remington's story of the two bullies of his hometown. They foung the lions' den, which was full of skeletons, a site which terrorfied Patterson and Remington, who asserted that the lions were killing only for pleasure. Later that night, Patterson proposed using a machan, which he learned about in India, Remignton informing him that he would use it himself, alone.
After they had built the stand, Remignton and Samuel provided Patterson a baboon to attract the lions, and Remignton gave Patterson his pistol for extra support. That night, an owl hit Patterson in the head and he fell from his perch. As one of the lions then made a move, he shot it in the shoulder, before joining Remington to track it. It leaped at him, and Remignton killed it. Later, they celebrated the victory, with Remignton telling Patterson to hold his son high when they met. Patterson had a nightmare that Helena and their child had come to visit, and were killed by the remaining lion, waking up in sweat. He then realized that the last lion had dragged Reminton from his tent and killed him. Tracking down his body, Patterson and Samuel cremated him, before boxing in the lion with fire. Telling Samuel he would kill the lion, Patterson emptied his rifle on the bridge, before being confronted by the lion, which he shot in the head. Then emptying Remington's pistol, Patterson fled from the lion into a tree. Samuel tossed Remington's rifle to Patterson, but it fell. Jumping to the ground, Patterson grabbed the gun and emptied it on the man-eater, killing it at point blank range. Some time later, the workforce returned and Helena arrived with their son, who Patterson held high, and Patterson went on to finish the bridge.
Colonel Patterson is a serious man about his work, a loving husband and father, and a loyal friend. He is not without a temper and describes himself as being stubborn. At Tsavo, he demonstrated great bravery and determination to build the bridge he had been hired for and priorly was unfazed by his employer's cruelty.
Colonel Patterson is a talented engineer and skilled hunter, befitting a soldier. He is very intelligent as well, enough that even a legendary, world-renowned hunter like Charles Remington openly praised. He was an excellent shot as well, killing a lion with one bullet.
The character of Colonel Patterson was based off of the actual John Henry Patterson, who killed the Tsavo maneaters in December, 1898. Also, although he had a wife named Helena, they were not pregnant at the time and she never came to see him as the film portrayed.