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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In West Germany and other countries the film was released under titles which mean translated back "The Desert of the Tatars". Obviously the editors in these countries missed that the original title does not refer to the actual Tatarian people but to the ancient Greek-Roman mythological "Tartars" (from the ancient Greek word "tartaros"). So "Tartars" in this context is not an outdated spelling of "Tatars", but an intended metaphor referring to the historical idea, that there are a people "coming from hell". See more »
Hollywood tends to make films about what happens "outside" a person, about action, about guns and explosions, and about rapid-fire cutting and dialog; many European filmmakers do just the opposite and develop "interior" stories, about what goes on inside a person's mind, about how their actions are driven by their environment; the environment in this little-known but complex desert epic is an ancient fort built on the edge of two countries where nothing much seems to happen, but where the inhabitants wait...and wait...and where a new officer arrives hoping to make his mark. Many folks will find the lack of direct action frustrating, as this is a character study more than anything else--but what characters! And what an outstanding group of actors--and subtle music by Ennio Morricone--and some fascinating cinematography.
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