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The Desert of the Tartars (1976)

Il deserto dei tartari (original title)
Lieutenant Giovanni Drogo is assigned to the old Bastiani border fortress where he expects an imminent attack by nomadic fearsome Tartars.

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (story) (as Andre G. Brunelin) | 3 more credits »
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6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Lieutenant Giovanni Drogo
...
Colonel Giovanbattista Filimore
Giuliano Gemma ...
Major Matis
Helmut Griem ...
Lieutenant Simeon
...
General
...
Marshal Tronk
...
Colonel Nathanson
Laurent Terzieff ...
Lieutenent Pietro Von Hamerling
...
Major Dr. Rovine
...
Captain Ortiz
Shaban Golchin Honaz ...
Private Lazare
Giuseppe Pambieri ...
Lieutenant Rathenau
Bryan Rostron ...
Von Armin
Kamran Nozad ...
Von Sern
Manfred Freyberger ...
Caporal Montagne
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Storyline

As his first assignment, lieutenant Drogo is sent to an isolated fortress on the borders of a desert and of a range of high mountains. The mission of the garrison is to prevent a possible incursion by the fearsome Tartars, coming from beyond the desert. Some fellow officers are eagerly awaiting an attack; some no longer want to believe in it; others take advantage of the vague threat to further their career. All of them are sacrificing everything -- health, youth, friends, family -- for a distant military ideal: leading the defence against the onslaught of the enemy. But in the vast emptiness surrounding the fortress, nobody has ever sighted the Tartars... Written by Eduardo Casais <casaise@acm.org>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

| |

Language:

Release Date:

29 October 1976 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

The Desert of the Tartars  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In West Germany and other countries the film was released under titles which mean translated back "The Desert of the Tatars". Obviously the editors in these countries missed that the original title does not refer to the actual Tatarian people but to the ancient Greek-Roman mythological "Tartars" (from the ancient Greek word "tartaros"). So "Tartars" in this context is not an outdated spelling of "Tatars", but an intended metaphor referring to the historical idea, that there are a people "coming from hell". See more »

Quotes

Drogo: I was sent here by mistake.
Le médecin-major Rovin: Here or elsewhere, we're all somewhere by mistake.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A haunting study of isolation
1 February 2001 | by (Gold Coast, Australia) – See all my reviews

A film over two hours long set in a remote desert fort, with an all male cast and no action, may seem a daunting prospect, however THE DESERT OF THE TARTARS is a strikingly memorable experience. The characters are full of suppressed emotion and inner turmoil, the strange surrealistic fort a metaphor of their spiritual imprisonment, and the huge expanse of surrounding desert a tangent reminder, day by day, and year by year, of their fears and lost aspirations.

Time passes imperceptibly, and our dashing young lieutenant, played by Jacques Perrin and surrounded by a stellar male cast, ages and weakens as the desert and the constraints of life in the fort strips away his physical strength and inner resolve. He yearns to free himself of the debilitating fort's influence, but finds himself transfixed by the mystical challenges of the landscape, and the perceived danger from the unseen enemy beyond.

The dust of the desert, the artificiality of the military life within the walls of the fort, the rituals and uniforms, the unspoken fears, the friendships and animosities between brother officers, the authority that seldom explains it's decisions, the half-recalled memories of a former life, and the ever present foreboding created by the shadows of the desert, shadows that sometimes give rise to visions of a lurking threat that may, or may not, be hidden in those shadows.

Exemplary colour widescreen photography is aided immeasurably by the haunting themes written by Ennio Moricone, and at the disquieting and ominous conclusion of the film, we are indeed completely mesmerized by an impressionistic, visionary spectacle that will haunt us for a long time after the final credits roll.


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