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Lion of the Desert (1980)

In 1929, Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini appoints General Rodolfo Graziani as colonial governor to Italian Libya with orders to stamp-out all resistance from Libyan nationalists led by rebel guerrilla leader Omar Mukhtar.

Director:

Moustapha Akkad

Writers:

David Butler (additional material), H.A.L. Craig | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anthony Quinn ... Omar Mukhtar
Oliver Reed ... Gen. Rodolfo Graziani
Irene Papas ... Mabrouka
Raf Vallone ... Colonel Diodiece
Rod Steiger ... Benito Mussolini
John Gielgud ... Sharif El Gariani
Andrew Keir ... Salem
Gastone Moschin ... Major Tomelli
Stefano Patrizi ... Lt. Sandrini
Adolfo Lastretti ... Colonel Sarsani
Sky du Mont ... Prince Amadeo (as Sky Dumont)
Takis Emmanuel ... Bu-Matari
Rodolfo Bigotti Rodolfo Bigotti ... Ismail
Robert Brown ... Al Fadeel
Eleonora Stathopoulou Eleonora Stathopoulou ... Ali's Mother
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Storyline

In Fascist Italy pre-World War II, the cruel General Rodolfo Graziani is directly assigned by Benito Mussolini 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 women, children, and aged people, to subdue Mukhtar. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Libya | USA

Language:

Arabic | Italian | English

Release Date:

16 May 1981 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Omar Mukhtar: Lion of the Desert See more »

Filming Locations:

Italy See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD) | (theatrical)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Black and White | Black and White (archive footage)| Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie was banned in Italy in 1982. Then Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti said of this that this movie was "damaging to the honor of the (Italian) Army". It has also been alleged that it was banned in Italy because the Italian Government maintained that this movie was defamatory. This movie was first broadcast on Italian television by Sky Italy on June 11, 2009 during the official state visit of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who had financed this movie. See more »

Goofs

During the narrated introduction immediately following the opening credits, the Earth is depicted revolving backwards - west-to-east instead of east-to-west. See more »

Quotes

Gen. Rodolfo Graziani: I want to ask you one question. Why did you keep going for so long? I mean, surely you didn't hope to drive us out of Libya with so little, did you?
Omar Mukhtar: We fought you. That was enough.
Gen. Rodolfo Graziani: And you cared nothing for the ruination of your country?
Omar Mukhtar: You are the ruination of my country. What would you do if someone occupied your land?
See more »

Alternate Versions

The U.S.A. Home Video VHS release in the '80s runs 160 minutes. Footage has been added in the Director's Cut released on Anchor Bay Video. This version, released in 1998, runs 206 minutes. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Making of Lion of the Desert (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

Marcia Reale
(uncredited)
Music by Giuseppe Gabetti
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An exciting tapestry of history coming alive under the great direction of Mustapha Al-Akkad...
14 July 2000 | by Nazi_Fighter_DavidSee all my reviews

"Lion of the Desert" stars Anthony Quinn as the real-life Beduin Leader Omar Mukhtar who fights with pride and courage, rage and anger Mussolini's invading troops in the Libyan Desert...

Quinn (strong, confident, never broken) plays the charismatic Islamic Libyan fighter who commits himself to a lifetime war against Italian Colonialism: "We have stood against you for 20 years and with the help of God we will stay with you till your end!"

Enraged by the 20-year war carried on by Beduin patriots opposed to the Italian occupation, the arrogant Mussolini (Rod Steiger) - the first of Europe's fascist dictators - orders his new military governor the ruthless Rodolfo Graziani (Oliver Reed) to crush and silence the Beduin rebellion by "whatever means" and capture their great leader Omar Mukhtar...

Mukhtar is forced to face his conviction and the power of Italy at its glorious height...

The film is based on the life of a brave resistance leader, a teacher of the Quran by profession... Mukhtar is a cunning warrior who masterminded the Libyan resistance... He stood against tyranny and oppression, and with the fire of his wisdom, he rallied his countrymen to liberation...

The film depicts the cruelty of Graziani's coward acts: the massive killing rampage in Kufra... We watch the invaders attacking with war-planes, tanks, cannons and machine-guns the poor village, but we also see a fascinating portrayal of the heroic Libyan forces fighting the mighty Italian artillery with old rusted rifles, giving their life for their land and their convictions...

Syrian director Mustapha Al-Akkad captures the horrific methods of the Italian army holding the helpless population in concentration camps; isolating the warriors from their families; setting fire to their fields; closing their wells; raping their women; destroying their homes; controlling the country by hanging old men and women; shooting innocent civilians, and specially the capture of the 'Old Lion', a natural fighter against 'educated' officers...

With great special effects, excellent action sequences and with the splendor of the Sahara Desert, Akkad's motion picture combines history with spectacle to create a moving drama of heroism and commitment...


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