In the beginning of the Twentieth Century, in Arabia, Emir Nesib of Hobeika defeats Sultan Amar of Salma after years of war between their tribes and they make a peace treaty creating "The Yellow Belt", a large no man's land that would separate their lands and would not belong to neither of them. Further, Nesib demands the sons of Amar, Saleh and Auda, to be raised together with his children Tarik and Leyla by him in Hobeika as a guarantee of their agreement. Fifteen years later, representatives of the Texas Oil find oil in the Yellow Belt and the modern and liberal Emir Nesib sees the opportunity to improve and modernize the life of his tribe, building hospitals and schools, and the American Company begins the exploitation of the oil field, violating the peace pact. Nasib sends a representative to make an agreement with the fundamentalist Sultan Amar, but he does not accept the offer. Saleh decides to travel to Salma to talk to his father and kills his two companions, but he is ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The film was shot in Tunisia and Qatar. The battle scenes were shot in the deserts of Qatar and took over four weeks to shoot. See more »
Here are my terms: All I want is your friendship.
And my sons.
Insurance for both of us. As long as they are uder my roof...
I cannot make war with you.
But the sword cuts both ways. We can't make war with you, either. Your sons will be our bond for peace.
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When Ibn Saud captured Mecca, it is said that he personally chopped off the head of the defeated governor, and tossed it over the city wall.
Such a fate would be deserved by the screenwriter.
It is hard to know what to make of this beautifully filmed train wreck of a story. The one thing that is clear is that no one involved had ever seen an oil well, nor had any idea what the Middle East was like in an ill defined period in the early 20th century.
The anachronistic technical bits in the film came thick and fast - planes jumped from WWI biplanes to, unless I am mistaken, a late 1930s German Storch - cars went from Model-Ts to late 1930s Packards. Oil was produced, but there was no visible way to get it from the four, pokey wells to anywhere it could be used, no pipeline, no trucks - apparently the director thought that just producing the oil is enough to make you rich. Typical of a French intellectual like the director.
And the behavior of ALL the characters was so wildly at odds with the Arab world as to verge on farce. At one point there is the suggestion that there might be some Koranic mechanism for a wife divorcing her husband. Other cultural references mainly involved women's veils.
The turgid and strained dialog would have mortified a first year drama student. Antonio Bandaras and Mark Strong must have decided that the only solution was to chew scenery whenever possible and perhaps the whole effort would become camp. Both did what they could with the feeble screenplay, but that was not much.
There was a cartoon Texan, as well, although his role, outside of being a hate figure, was never wholly clear. The story is (VERY) loosely based on Saudi Arabia, but given imaginary names, but somehow there is no reference to the British, who really ran that part of the globe until WWII. Note to the writer at the end, in the 1930s, even Texaco was headquartered in New York City, not Houston. Pre air conditioning, Houston was quasi uninhabitable for half the year.
It only cost me £2 to rent it, but I still want my £2 back.
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