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Lion of the Desert (1980)

Biography | 173 minutes / 156 minutes (dvd)
3,83 152 votes

Genre: Biography / Drama

Duration: 173 minuten / 156 minuten (dvd)

Alternative title: Omar Mukhtar: Lion of the Desert

Country: United States / Libya

Directed by: Moustapha Akkad

Stars: Anthony Quinn, Oliver Reed and Rod Steiger

IMDb score: 8,2 (17.000)

Releasedate: 17 April 1981

Lion of the Desert plot

"He was a man of honor in a war without any."

In 1929, the twenty-year war between the Libyan Bedouins and Italian colonial occupiers was still raging in full force. The rebels' driving force is the legendary Omar Mukhtar, a teacher who was forced to become a revolutionary because he cannot tolerate his people being subjected to a foreign power.

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Full Cast & Crew

Actors and actresses

Omar Mukhtar

Benito Mussolini

Gen. Rodolfo Graziani

Colonel Diodiece

Sharif El Gariani

Major Tomelli

Lt. Sandrini

Colonel Sarsani

Reviews & comments


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avatar van Filmkriebel


  • 8748 messages
  • 4033 votes

An impressive film, the only one I know about the military colonization of Italy to conquer Libya. They even went to Libya to shoot scenes, and then you have a very authentic looking war film with great war scenes in great sets. The war scenes are also very believable and it gets quite heavy in some scenes. Quinn portrays the rebel too much as a kind of Gandhi figure who must radiate wisdom (that's where the propaganda lies) and Reed's General Graziani is too much of the cliché military. But despite the few nuanced characters, this is a film that stands out above all for the beautiful mise en scene and the care to represent everything as faithfully as possible.

dutch flagTranslated from Dutch · View original

avatar van Movsin


  • 7562 messages
  • 8025 votes

A lot of fighting in this well-made film with a historical background - the archive footage reinforces the truthfulness of the event - an event that takes place under the theme of the never-ending expansion drive of great powers and fanatical rulers.

dutch flagTranslated from Dutch · View original

avatar van mjk87

mjk87 (moderator films)

  • 13038 messages
  • 3808 votes

Film that wants to be great in everything, but is especially weak at times. On the one hand, the film is reminiscent of those Sunday afternoon classics by a David Lean, but on the other hand, the film never manages to approach that grandeur and grandeur. The film shows a great story and takes its time (mainly that), but it mainly feels like a summary consisting of a few strong individual scenes and further details, so that the film never really gets under the skin, does not constantly impress or surprise and in the end some will drag. The film shows the violence quite raw, those are strong moments. Just like the pieces with the battles. Or halfway through with heavy music when it switches to real images from then - the best moment of the film.

But as a film, as a story, this print fails. Actors do their best but get a script that wants to say too much and actually goes from moment to moment and never tells a lived-in story. The film does not get under the skin, characters are not lived through, but above all pawns to tell a story of a freedom struggle. Furthermore, the film feels a bit dated (and feels like this is a 60s product, not from the 80s) and I really miss visual power. Some images are okay, especially the somewhat abstract images with barren deserts and the beautiful blue skies, but many shots are static and boring - I didn't really see anything special with the camera in 3 hours. 2.5*.

dutch flagTranslated from Dutch · View original