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Lion of the Desert (DVD)

Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Moustapha Akkad


Editeur - Casa editrice

Anchor Bay Entertainment

Africa
Africa del Nord
Libia

Anno - Date de Parution

1981

Lingua - language - langue

eng

Edizione - Collana

DVD 1999

Contributo di

Anthony Quinn, Oliver Reed

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Lion of the Desert

Lion of the Desert (DVD)  

Il film sull’eroe nazionale libico, Omar el Muktar, impiccato dopo un processo farsa, Il Leone del deserto, diretto nel 1979 da Mustafa Akkad e con un cast eccezionale, Anthony Quinn, Oliver Reed, Rod Steiger, Irene Papas, Gastone Moschin, Raf Vallone, John Gielgud, bandito dalle sale cinematografiche nostrane per «oltraggio alle forze armate» o perché «potrebbe creare problemi di ordine pubblico», è ancora sulla lista nera. Lo storico Denis Mack Smith, scrisse per Cinema nuovo, questo giudizio: «Mai prima di questo film, gli orrori ma anche la nobiltà della guerriglia sono stati espressi in modo così memorabile, in scene di battaglia così impressionanti; mai l’ingiustizia del colonialismo è stata denunciata con tanto vigore... Chi giudica questo film col criterio dell’attendibilità storica non può non ammirare l’ampiezza della ricerca che ha sovrinteso alla ricostruzione». Un giudizio importante che da solo dovrebbe indurre l’Italia a distribuire il film nelle sale cinematografiche. Rivisto di recente, non ha perso nulla della sua vitalità e le grandi scene di battaglia sono ancora valide dal punto di vista cinematografico. Utile, comunque, resta la raccomandazione dello storico Giorgio Rochat, uno fra i tanti che auspicano la diffusione del film, a intendere la verità del prodotto cinematografico in senso storico-politico e non strettamente filologico, rilevando, ad esempio, come le scene di battaglia contengano alcune inesattezze quali l’imboscata attuata dai libici con le mine, di cui in realtà essi non disponevano.

 


Recensione in altra lingua (English):

"Lion of the Desert" opens in the year 1922 right after Benito Mussolini took control of the Italian government. As many historians know, Il Duce quickly decided one way to bolster his fascist dictatorship was to present it as a renewed Roman Empire. One of his first priorities as a conquering Augustus was to renew efforts to pacify the Bedouin tribes in the Italian colony of Libya. After ascertaining that the leader of the Bedouin resistance is a man named Omar Mukhtar, Mussolini handpicks one of his most ruthless and capable generals, Rodolfo Graziani, as the new governor of the colony. Graziani's mission is to go to Libya and smash these pesky desert nomads in any way he sees fit. The Italian presence in Libya dates back some twenty years, and Il Duce isn't about to lose the territory on his watch. His general soon sails to Libya with a few novel ideas on how to defeat the Arab resistance, and he won't let anyone stand in his way. Graziani is such a ruthless tyrant that even Omar Mukhtar recognizes his name when told the general is now the new governor. Mukhtar isn't about to just let Graziani roll over his people, while the general intends to teach Mukhtar a lesson he and his people will never forget.

This movie overflows with magnificently choreographed battle sequences involving thousands of extras. Moreover, Akkad and his crew took great pains to reproduce the Italian military equipment down to the smallest details. It must have killed some of the craftsmen on the movie to watch months of painstaking labor go up in a two second explosion, something that happens on a frequent basis during the film as the Bedouins routinely destroy endless numbers of armored cars and tanks. According to the makers of "Lion of the Desert," Graziani was the first military commander to use tanks in the desert, and the movie portrays this historic battle in expansive detail. It is difficult to say which battle sequence is the best, although I would definitely lean towards the artillery barrage in the valley when Italian field cannons open up on entrenched Bedouins in the caves on the side of a mountain. The sound and fury of this encounter looks great on DVD, with the explosions of the shells literally booming out of my sound system.

The performances really make this film a winner. Rod Steiger plays Benito Mussolini with all of the swagger you would expect from an actor portraying the pompous fascist dictator. Oliver Reed works wonders as the cold-hearted Graziani. The best performance in the film is definitely Anthony Quinn's turn as Omar Mukhtar. Not only does he look like the actual historical figure, as seen by photographic comparisons made in one of the extras on the DVD, he strikes just the right balance of compassion and controlled ferocity. The meeting between Mukhtar and Graziani towards the end of the film fills the screen with drama, along with several statements made by Mukhtar that would apply to any conquered peoples on the face of the earth. The 162 minute runtime insures that most of the characters receive appropriate development.


Recensione in altra lingua (Français):

Technical Information
Release Information:
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Theatrical Release Date: January 1, 1981
DVD Release Date: January 12, 1999
Run Time: 206 minutes
Production Company: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Package Type: Keep Case


Aspect Ratio(s):
Widescreen letterbox - 2.35:1



Discographic Information:
DVD Encoding: All Regions
Layers: Single
Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
Special Edition


Edition Details:
• All regions. Read more about DVD formats.
• Color, Widescreen
• Still Gallery
• Theatrical Trailers
• Documentary: The Making of an Epic
• ASIN: 6305020094


Recensione in lingua italiana

This film, a box-office failure, was bankrolled by Libya's Colonel Muammar Qadhafi.
This film is banned in Italy. Owning and showing it is a criminal offence, on the ground of "defamation of the armed forces."
An entire makeshift village was created in the middle of the desert about 600 miles from Bengazi to house the production, which numbered approximately 500 people, throughout the shoot. All the materials for the creation of this village were shipped out from England. They had particular problems with catering as all the food had to be bussed in, meat being particularly problematic as in this desert area of Libya cold storage was virtually unheard of.
Cameras had to be brushed every two hours to keep them free of sand. The same was true of the film canisters that the editing team were working from, and all the firearm props which kept jamming as they were all clogged up.
Research for the project, which took a year and a half, was made a little easier by the fact that Mussolini, who was obsessed with propaganda, had had virtually every aspect of his Libyan campaign captured on film.
The production's obsession with authenticity extended right down to the same barber who used to shave Mussolini's head being hired to shave Rod Steiger's, the actor playing Il Duce.
Some scenes feature up to 10,000 extras.
The antagonists, Omar Muktar played by Anthony Quinn, and General Graziani, played by Oliver Reed, only have one scene together.
The film cost approximately $35 million but only managed to gross about $1 million worldwide, making it one of the largest financial disasters in film history.
Franco Fantasia, who plays Grazziani's Governor General, also served as technical advisor.