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Lion of the Desert (1980)

In the Fascist Italy Pre-World War II of Benito Mussolini, the cruel General Rodolfo Graziani is directly assigned by Il Duce to fight in the colonial war in Libya to vanquish the Arab ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
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Mabrouka
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Colonel Diodiece
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Sharif El Gariani
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Salem
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Major Tomelli
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Lt. Sandrini
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Colonel Sarsani
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Prince Amadeo (as Sky Dumont)
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Bu-Matari
Rodolfo Bigotti ...
Ismail
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Al Fadeel
Eleonora Stathopoulou ...
Ali's Mother
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Storyline

In the Fascist Italy Pre-World War II of Benito Mussolini, the cruel General Rodolfo Graziani is directly assigned by Il Duce to fight in the colonial war in Libya to vanquish the Arab nation. However, his troops are frequently defeated by the national leader Omar Mukhtar and his army of Bedouins. But the Butcher of Ethiopia and Libya uses a dirty war against the natives, slaughtering children, women and aged people, to subdue Mukhtar. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

libya | arab | mussolini | general | muslim | See All (48) »

Taglines:

A giant of a man against a general seeking glory...a spectacular adventure of arch enemies in battle.


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

16 May 1981 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Omar Mukhtar: Lion of the Desert  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Color:

| (archive footage)| (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Stars Oliver Reed and Anthony Quinn share only about five minutes of screen time together in a picture that has a total running time of about between 156 and 173 minutes depending on the cut. See more »

Goofs

Mussolini is talking to Graziani in the opening when he looks the map of Libya, and says that all the green land is for Italy, but this is a topographical map that shows land greener as it becomes lower by sea level. 90% of the area of Libya is desert. See more »

Quotes

Gen. Rodolfo Graziani: These chains are uncomfortable ?
Omar Mukhtar: They are... uncomfortable facts.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in El crack (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

Giovinezza
(uncredited)
Music by Giuseppe Blanc
Lyrics by Salvatore Gotta
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User Reviews

 
The late, great Anthonny Quinn
19 July 2006 | by (Switzerland) – See all my reviews

Prelude to WWII. Omar Mukhtar, a brilliant Bedouin leader, wages war against oppressive Italian Fascist forces (led by the bloodthirsty General Graziani) in his native Lybia.

Director Moustapha Akkad (The Message) clearly learnt a few lessons from "Lawrence of Arabia", mainly how best to use the charismatic Anthony Quinn. As Mukhtar, Quinn gives a nuanced portrayal of compassion and wisdom. Whenever he features in a scene, it becomes impossible to tear one's eyes off the screen. Thankfully, Oliver Reed proves a magnificently cruel and seething counterpoint as General Graziani. Irene Papas provides strong supporting work and Rod Steiger turns in a delightful cameo as Benito Musslini.

Moustapha Akkad uses a solid structure and keeps it riveting throughout, extracting fine performances from all his actors and technical collaborators. Where "The Message" was impressive but cold (due to its invisible hero and reverence), "Lion in the Desert" has an emotional core and throws up scene after impressive scene. The desert battle scenes are incredibly messy and savage and have a sense of multiple individual action amid chaos, rather than elaborate choreography. This perfectly suits the theme of Bedouin guerrilla. Production values are considerable and Maurice Jarre provides one of his most underrated scores.

Some viewers will find qualms with the fact that, despite the coda that proclaims that Lybia managed to liberate itself, the country was then for long under the oppressive rule of Kadaffi. In truth, this little addition might have something to do with the fact that Kadaffi assisted in funding the film. If you can overlook this (not to difficult), you can appreciate the true focus: Mukhtar. This remains a beautiful film about a people's resistance.

"Lion in the Desert" is an important film, if only because it offers a very accessible (to Western audiences) Arab perspective. It is also impressively well made: an accomplished chapter in the era of great epics that flourished with David Lean's masterpieces and ended with Richard Attenbourgh's Gandhi.

See this!


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