Lion of the Desert
Overview
 
Lion of the Desert is a 1981 Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

n historical action film
Action film
Action film is a film genre where one or more heroes is thrust into a series of challenges that require physical feats, extended fights and frenetic chases...

 starring Anthony Quinn
Anthony Quinn
Antonio Rodolfo Quinn-Oaxaca , more commonly known as Anthony Quinn, was a Mexican American actor, as well as a painter and writer...

 as Libyan tribal leader Omar Mukhtar
Omar Mukhtar
Omar Mukhtar , of the Mnifa, was born in the small village of Janzour, near Tobruk in eastern Barqa in Libya. Beginning in 1912, he organized and, for nearly twenty years, led native resistance to Italian colonization of Libya. The Italians captured and hanged him in 1931...

, a Bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

 leader fighting the Italian army in the years leading up to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and Oliver Reed
Oliver Reed
Oliver Reed was an English actor known for his burly screen presence. Reed exemplified his real-life macho image in "tough guy" roles...

 as Italian General Rodolfo Graziani
Rodolfo Graziani
Rodolfo Graziani, 1st Marquis of Neghelli , was an officer in the Italian Regio Esercito who led military expeditions in Africa before and during World War II.-Rise to prominence:...

, who attempted to defeat Mukhtar. It was directed by Moustapha Akkad
Moustapha Akkad
Moustapha Akkad was a Syrian American film producer and director, best known for producing the series of Halloween films and directing Mohammad, Messenger of God and Lion of the Desert. He was killed along with his daughter Rima Akkad Monla in 2005 in Amman, Jordan by a suicide bomber.-Early life...

 and funded by the government under Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

. Released in May 1981, the film was liked by critics and audiences but performed poorly in making money, bringing in just $1 million dollars net worldwide, a financial disaster.
In 1929, Italian
Italian people
The Italian people are an ethnic group that share a common Italian culture, ancestry and speak the Italian language as a mother tongue. Within Italy, Italians are defined by citizenship, regardless of ancestry or country of residence , and are distinguished from people...

 dictator Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 (Rod Steiger
Rod Steiger
Rodney Stephen "Rod" Steiger was an Academy Award-winning American actor known for his performances in such films as On the Waterfront, The Big Knife, Oklahoma!, The Harder They Fall, Across the Bridge, The Pawnbroker, Doctor Zhivago, In the Heat of the Night, and Waterloo as well as the...

) is still faced with the 20-year long war waged by patriots in Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 to combat Italian colonization
Italian Empire
The Italian Empire was created after the Kingdom of Italy joined other European powers in establishing colonies overseas during the "scramble for Africa". Modern Italy as a unified state only existed from 1861. By this time France, Spain, Portugal, Britain, and the Netherlands, had already carved...

 and the establishment of 'The Fourth Shore' - the rebirth of a Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

.
Encyclopedia
Lion of the Desert is a 1981 Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

n historical action film
Action film
Action film is a film genre where one or more heroes is thrust into a series of challenges that require physical feats, extended fights and frenetic chases...

 starring Anthony Quinn
Anthony Quinn
Antonio Rodolfo Quinn-Oaxaca , more commonly known as Anthony Quinn, was a Mexican American actor, as well as a painter and writer...

 as Libyan tribal leader Omar Mukhtar
Omar Mukhtar
Omar Mukhtar , of the Mnifa, was born in the small village of Janzour, near Tobruk in eastern Barqa in Libya. Beginning in 1912, he organized and, for nearly twenty years, led native resistance to Italian colonization of Libya. The Italians captured and hanged him in 1931...

, a Bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

 leader fighting the Italian army in the years leading up to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and Oliver Reed
Oliver Reed
Oliver Reed was an English actor known for his burly screen presence. Reed exemplified his real-life macho image in "tough guy" roles...

 as Italian General Rodolfo Graziani
Rodolfo Graziani
Rodolfo Graziani, 1st Marquis of Neghelli , was an officer in the Italian Regio Esercito who led military expeditions in Africa before and during World War II.-Rise to prominence:...

, who attempted to defeat Mukhtar. It was directed by Moustapha Akkad
Moustapha Akkad
Moustapha Akkad was a Syrian American film producer and director, best known for producing the series of Halloween films and directing Mohammad, Messenger of God and Lion of the Desert. He was killed along with his daughter Rima Akkad Monla in 2005 in Amman, Jordan by a suicide bomber.-Early life...

 and funded by the government under Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

. Released in May 1981, the film was liked by critics and audiences but performed poorly in making money, bringing in just $1 million dollars net worldwide, a financial disaster.

Plot

In 1929, Italian
Italian people
The Italian people are an ethnic group that share a common Italian culture, ancestry and speak the Italian language as a mother tongue. Within Italy, Italians are defined by citizenship, regardless of ancestry or country of residence , and are distinguished from people...

 dictator Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 (Rod Steiger
Rod Steiger
Rodney Stephen "Rod" Steiger was an Academy Award-winning American actor known for his performances in such films as On the Waterfront, The Big Knife, Oklahoma!, The Harder They Fall, Across the Bridge, The Pawnbroker, Doctor Zhivago, In the Heat of the Night, and Waterloo as well as the...

) is still faced with the 20-year long war waged by patriots in Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 to combat Italian colonization
Italian Empire
The Italian Empire was created after the Kingdom of Italy joined other European powers in establishing colonies overseas during the "scramble for Africa". Modern Italy as a unified state only existed from 1861. By this time France, Spain, Portugal, Britain, and the Netherlands, had already carved...

 and the establishment of 'The Fourth Shore' - the rebirth of a Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

. Mussolini appoints General Rodolfo Graziani
Rodolfo Graziani
Rodolfo Graziani, 1st Marquis of Neghelli , was an officer in the Italian Regio Esercito who led military expeditions in Africa before and during World War II.-Rise to prominence:...

 (Oliver Reed
Oliver Reed
Oliver Reed was an English actor known for his burly screen presence. Reed exemplified his real-life macho image in "tough guy" roles...

) as his sixth governor to Libya, confident that the eminently accredited soldier can crush the rebellion and restore the dissipated glories of Imperial Rome. Omar Mukhtar
Omar Mukhtar
Omar Mukhtar , of the Mnifa, was born in the small village of Janzour, near Tobruk in eastern Barqa in Libya. Beginning in 1912, he organized and, for nearly twenty years, led native resistance to Italian colonization of Libya. The Italians captured and hanged him in 1931...

 (Anthony Quinn
Anthony Quinn
Antonio Rodolfo Quinn-Oaxaca , more commonly known as Anthony Quinn, was a Mexican American actor, as well as a painter and writer...

) leads the resistance to the fascists. A teacher by profession, guerrilla by obligation, Mukhtar had committed himself to a war that cannot be won in his own lifetime. Graziani controls Libya
Italian Libya
Italian Libya was a unified colony of Italian North Africa established in 1934 in what represents present-day Libya...

 with the might of the Italian Army
Italian Army
The Italian Army is the ground defence force of the Italian Armed Forces. It is all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel, numbering 108,355 in 2010. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft...

. Tanks and aircraft are used in the desert for the first time. The Italians also committed atrocities: killing of prisoners of war, destruction of crops, and hamletting populations behind barbed wire.

Despite their bravery, the Libyan Arabs and Berber
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

s suffered heavy losses, their relatively primitive weaponry was no match for mechanised warfare; despite all this, they continued to fight, and managed to keep the Italians from achieving complete victory for 20 years. Graziani was only able to achieve victory through deceit, deception, violation of the laws of war and human rights, and by the use of tanks and aircraft.

Despite their lack of modern weaponry, Graziani recognised the skill of his adversary in waging guerrilla warfare. In one scene, Mukhtar refuses to kill a defenseless young officer, instead giving him the Italian flag to return with. Mukhtar says that Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 forbids him to kill captured soldiers and demands that he only fight for his homeland, and that Muslims are taught to hate war itself.

In the end, Mukhtar is captured and tried as a rebel. His lawyer states that since Mukhtar had never accepted Italian rule, he cannot be tried as a rebel, and instead must be treated as a prisoner of war (which would save him from being hanged). The judge rejects this, and the film ends with Mukthar being executed by hanging.

Censorship in Italy

The Italian authorities had banned the film in 1982 because, in the words of Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti
Giulio Andreotti
Giulio Andreotti is an Italian politician of the now dissolved centrist Christian Democracy party. He served as the 42nd Prime Minister of Italy from 1972 to 1973, from 1976 to 1979 and from 1989 to 1992. He also served as Minister of the Interior , Defense Minister and Foreign Minister and he...

, it was "damaging to the honor of the army". The last act of the government's intervention against the film was on April 7, 1987, in Trento
Trento
Trento is an Italian city located in the Adige River valley in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. It is the capital of Trentino...

; afterward, MPs from Democrazia Proletaria asked Parliament
Parliament of Italy
The Parliament of Italy is the national parliament of Italy. It is a bicameral legislature with 945 elected members . The Chamber of Deputies, with 630 members is the lower house. The Senate of the Republic is the upper house and has 315 members .Since 2005, a party list electoral law is being...

 to show the movie at the Chamber of Deputies
Italian Chamber of Deputies
The Italian Chamber of Deputies is the lower house of the Parliament of Italy. It has 630 seats, a plurality of which is controlled presently by liberal-conservative party People of Freedom. Twelve deputies represent Italian citizens outside of Italy. Deputies meet in the Palazzo Montecitorio. A...

.

The movie was finally broadcast on television in Italy by Sky Italy on June 11, 2009 during the official visit to Italy of Libya's leader Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

.

Cast

  • Anthony Quinn
    Anthony Quinn
    Antonio Rodolfo Quinn-Oaxaca , more commonly known as Anthony Quinn, was a Mexican American actor, as well as a painter and writer...

     as Omar Mukhtar
    Omar Mukhtar
    Omar Mukhtar , of the Mnifa, was born in the small village of Janzour, near Tobruk in eastern Barqa in Libya. Beginning in 1912, he organized and, for nearly twenty years, led native resistance to Italian colonization of Libya. The Italians captured and hanged him in 1931...

  • Oliver Reed
    Oliver Reed
    Oliver Reed was an English actor known for his burly screen presence. Reed exemplified his real-life macho image in "tough guy" roles...

     as General Graziani
    Rodolfo Graziani
    Rodolfo Graziani, 1st Marquis of Neghelli , was an officer in the Italian Regio Esercito who led military expeditions in Africa before and during World War II.-Rise to prominence:...

  • Irene Papas
    Irene Papas
    Irene Papas is a Greek actress and occasional singer, who has starred in over seventy films in a career spanning more than fifty years.-Life:...

     as Mabrouka
  • Raf Vallone
    Raf Vallone
    Raffaele "Raf" Vallone was an Italian footballer, actor and an international film star.Born in Tropea, Calabria, the son of a lawyer, Vallone attended Liceo classico Cavour in Turin, and studied Law and Philosophy at the University of Turin and entered his father's law firm...

     as Diodiece
  • Rod Steiger
    Rod Steiger
    Rodney Stephen "Rod" Steiger was an Academy Award-winning American actor known for his performances in such films as On the Waterfront, The Big Knife, Oklahoma!, The Harder They Fall, Across the Bridge, The Pawnbroker, Doctor Zhivago, In the Heat of the Night, and Waterloo as well as the...

     as Mussolini
    Benito Mussolini
    Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

  • John Gielgud
    John Gielgud
    Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH was an English actor, director, and producer. A descendant of the renowned Terry acting family, he achieved early international acclaim for his youthful, emotionally expressive Hamlet which broke box office records on Broadway in 1937...

     as El Gariani
    Sharif El Gariani
    Sharif El Gariani was a Libyan religious sheik and statesman.Born in Janzour, near Tobruk, Libya, he was the nephew of Hussein El Gariani , co-founder of the first senussi Zawia at Bayda in 1844, and the man who took care of an orphan boy named Omar Mukhtar, .After the...

  • Andrew Keir
    Andrew Keir
    Andrew Keir was a Scottish actor, who rose to prominence featuring in a number of films from Hammer Film Productions in the 1960s. He was also active in television, and particularly in the theatre, in a professional career that lasted from the 1940s to the 1990s...

     as Salem
  • Gastone Moschin
    Gastone Moschin
    Gastone Moschin is an Italian actor.Born in San Giovanni Lupatoto , he began his career in the 1950s as theatre actor, first with the Stable Theater in Genoa and then with the Piccolo Teatro in Milan. In the same period Moschin also began to play in feature films, such as La rivale and L'audace...

     as Tomelli
  • Lino Capolicchio
    Lino Capolicchio
    Lino Capolicchio is an Italian actor, screenwriter, and film director. He won a special David di Donatello acting award for his role in Vittorio de Sica's 1970 film, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis....

     as Captain Bedendo
  • Stefano Patrizi as Sandrini
  • Adolfo Lastretti as Sarsani
  • Sky Dumont as Amedeo
  • Takis Emmanuel as Bu-Matari
  • Rodolfo Bigotti as Ismail
  • Robert Brown as Al Fadeel
  • Eleonora Stathopoulou as Ali's Mother
  • Luciano Bartoli as Captain Lontano
  • Claudio Gora
    Claudio Gora
    Claudio Gora was an Italian actor and film director.He was a particularly prolific actor making some 155 appearances in film and television over nearly 60 years from 1939 to 1997...

     as Court President
  • Giordano Falzoni as Judge at Camp
  • Franco Fantasia as Graziani's Aide
  • Ihab Werfaly as Ali

External links

(part 2)
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