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Algeria, 1954. Two very different men thrown together by a world in turmoil are forced to flee across the Atlas mountains. Daru, the reclusive teacher, has to escort Mohamed, a villager accused of murder.
I first saw this film in the early seventies and have sought it out at every chance I had since then. This is one of my most favorite films of all time. It will appeal to those who have a deep appreciation of the art of western Europe from the end of the nineteenth century to the thirties. The art direction is pointedly referential to these art genres. It has a condensed power and sensibility that has conceptual roots (in the story line) in films like Children of Paradise and La Strada as well as the more recent El Amor Brujo by Carlos Saura, an equally fine dance film. There are aspects of this film that will not appeal to those who expect more dialog and a less stylized presentation than this film embraces. This film is pure art on every level and an exceptional tour-d'force collaboration between the director (Rouleau), the composer (Theodorakis, famous for Zorba the Greek)and the cinematographer (Claude Renoir, son of the director, grandson of the painter). I am waiting for an opportunity to own a clean color corrected print. The tape I saw recently was in poor condition, very contrasty and color shifting. The subtitles were often white on white, which is frustrating, but in no way diminishes the power of this fabulous film.
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