The Sheltering Sky (1990)

R  |   |  Adventure, Drama  |  12 December 1990 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 8,279 users  
Reviews: 69 user | 31 critic

The American artist couple Port and Kit Moresby travel aimlessly through Africa, searching for new experiences that could give sense to their relationship. But the flight to distant regions only leads both deeper into despair.


(book), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kit Moresby
Port Moresby
George Tunner
Jill Bennett ...
Mrs. Lyle
Eric Lyle
Eric Vu-An ...
Amina Annabi ...
Philippe Morier-Genoud ...
Captain Broussard
Sotigui Kouyaté ...
Abdelkader (as Sotigui Kouyate)
Tom Novembre ...
French Immigration Officer
Ben Smaïl ...
Smail (as Ben Smail)
Kamel Cherif ...
Ticket Seller
Mohammed Afifi ...
Mohamed (as Afifi Mohamed)
Brahim Oubana ...
Young Arab
Carolyn De Fonseca ...
Miss Ferry (as Carolyn de Fonseca)


The American artist couple Port and Kit Moresby travels aimless through Africa, searching for new experiences that could give new sense to their relationship. But the flight to distant regions leads both only deeper into despair. Written by Thomas Manhardt <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A woman's dangerous and erotic journey...


Adventure | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| |

Release Date:

12 December 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Refugio para el amor  »

Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)


$2,075,084 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (70 mm prints)


(archive footage)| (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Paul Bowles, author - and thinly disguised subject - of the autobiographical novel on which the film is based, said, "It should never have been filmed. The ending is idiotic and the rest is pretty bad." This quote comes from a rare interview that was part of the film Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles (1998). See more »


During the final sequence, when Kit is back to the Grand Hotel and she is waiting in the car, she is wearing white shoes. But just after, when she escapes and is walking in the streets, she is using brown sandals. See more »


[first lines]
Port Moresby: Well, terra firma.
Tunner: We're probably the first tourists they've had since the war.
Kit Moresby: Tunner, we're not tourists. We're travelers.
Tunner: Oh. What's the difference?
Port Moresby: A tourist is someone who thinks about going home the moment they arrive, Tunner.
Kit Moresby: Whereas a traveler might not come back at all.
Tunner: You mean *I'm* a tourist.
Kit Moresby: Yes, Tunner. And I'm half and half.
See more »


Referenced in The Comfort of Strangers (1990) See more »


Gnawa Drums
Performed by Brahim El Belkani and the Gnawa of Marrakesh
See more »

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User Reviews

A feast for the senses
5 November 2001 | by (Scotland) – See all my reviews

It's hard to understand why this film doesn't get better reviews. Yes of course it's a reflective arty film where evoking feelings is more important than narrative drive. The amount of nudity, though in keeping with the story, does perhaps hinder its being taken seriously by some.

Surely though it succeeds as well as any film has in painting a cinematic picture of the experience of being a stranger in a strange land? The cultural barriers, dissonances, language, the maze of similar streets - everything comes together to create the feeling of utter helplessness Kit experiences when she tries to get help for the ill Port. The confusing weird relationships, often only partially depicted in the film heighten the sense of being adrift in life.

Together with some of the best ever desert cinematography rivaling even Lawrence of Arabia, North African music, noises, characters and colors this film is a rich feast for the senses indeed. And what a wonderful final voice-over, one of the most deep and thought-provoking lines in all the movies.

54 of 75 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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