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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:

Valerio Zurlini

Writers:

Dino Buzzati (novel), André G. Brunelin (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:
Jacques Perrin ... Lieutenant Giovanni Drogo
Vittorio Gassman ... Colonel Giovanbattista Filimore
Giuliano Gemma ... Major Matis
Helmut Griem ... Lieutenant Simeon
Philippe Noiret ... General
Francisco Rabal ... Marshal Tronk
Fernando Rey ... Colonel Nathanson
Laurent Terzieff ... Lieutenent Pietro Von Hamerling
Jean-Louis Trintignant ... Major Dr. Rovine
Max von Sydow ... Captain Ortiz
Shaban Golchin Honaz Shaban Golchin Honaz ... Private Lazare
Giuseppe Pambieri Giuseppe Pambieri ... Lieutenant Rathenau
Bryan Rostron Bryan Rostron ... Von Armin
Kamran Nozad Kamran Nozad ... Von Sern
Manfred Freyberger 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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Italy | France | West Germany

Language:

Italian

Release Date:

29 October 1976 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

The Desert of the Tartars See more »

Filming Locations:

Arg-e Bam, Iran See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jacques Perrin and Jean-Louis Trintignant previously appeared in Z (1969). 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

 
Neglected masterpiece
8 December 2006 | by smolenskSee all my reviews

This extraordinary film sprang from a fertile time in world cinema. In the USA the medium was experiencing heady creativity but in Italy such exceptional ability was expected. To see it now is to witness movie making at its most devoted and personal. Zurlini casts it brilliantly. The acting by an acclaimed cast is both restrained and gut wrenching. Adapted from a classic novel, which I have not read, it leaves its literary provenance behind while still managing to address what are normally literary obsessions: existentialism, nihilism and romantic futility. Visually the film is stunning and makes a mockery of the ghastly special effects which in a film like Gladiator make the world seem like a landscape of precious celluloid grey. It is filmed in the middle east in a now earthquake-torn ancient town. If one didn't know such a place existed one would think that special effects had accomplished impossible beauty. But no, its all real. And all spectacularly realised.


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