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Erich von Stroheim,
Life in a small Mexican village where joy and misery, hope and pain, passion and guilt, love and decay, life and death are mixed in the peasants life and two French citizens who end up stranded in there, during a typhoid epidemic.
Rafael E. Portas
Víctor Manuel Mendoza
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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 <email@example.com>
A film over two hours long set in a remote desert fort, with an all male cast and no action, may seem a daunting prospect, however THE DESERT OF THE TARTARS is a strikingly memorable experience. The characters are full of suppressed emotion and inner turmoil, the strange surrealistic fort a metaphor of their spiritual imprisonment, and the huge expanse of surrounding desert a tangent reminder, day by day, and year by year, of their fears and lost aspirations.
Time passes imperceptibly, and our dashing young lieutenant, played by Jacques Perrin and surrounded by a stellar male cast, ages and weakens as the desert and the constraints of life in the fort strips away his physical strength and inner resolve. He yearns to free himself of the debilitating fort's influence, but finds himself transfixed by the mystical challenges of the landscape, and the perceived danger from the unseen enemy beyond.
The dust of the desert, the artificiality of the military life within the walls of the fort, the rituals and uniforms, the unspoken fears, the friendships and animosities between brother officers, the authority that seldom explains it's decisions, the half-recalled memories of a former life, and the ever present foreboding created by the shadows of the desert, shadows that sometimes give rise to visions of a lurking threat that may, or may not, be hidden in those shadows.
Exemplary colour widescreen photography is aided immeasurably by the haunting themes written by Ennio Moricone, and at the disquieting and ominous conclusion of the film, we are indeed completely mesmerized by an impressionistic, visionary spectacle that will haunt us for a long time after the final credits roll.
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