Friday, July 10, 2009


The film "Lion of the Desert" with Anthony Quinn as Omar Mukhtar, a rebel against the Italian Fascists in Libya, was made in 1981. John Gielgud and Irene Papas played supporting roles and Rod Steiger made a cameo appearance as dictator Benito Mussolini. Obviously it was a high budget film, shot in beautiful locations in the Libyan desert and mountains, and in Rome.

The director/producer Moustapha Akkad, a Syrian, obviously had a lesson he wanted to teach his viewers about the tenacity of Arabs against intruders in "their" lands. Historically, the central character and his guerrillas fought bravely, but were thoroughly defeated in 1931. Post-World War II, the Italians no longer ruled but their colonists remained until Gadaffi expelled them in 1969. Mukhtar is obviously presented as a warning to a variety of enemies of the Arabs. The Italians, of course, were portrayed as beasts, with occasional lapses of humanity. It's kind of heavy-handed, though the beautiful settings make it quite watchable.

Oddly, according to IMDB, almost all Moustapha Akkad's other productions were variations on "Halloween."

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