Lion of the Desert is a 1981 Libyan historical action film starring Anthony Quinn as Libyan tribal leader Omar Mukhtar fighting the Italian army in the years leading up to World War II. It was directed by Moustapha Akkad and funded by Muammar al-Gaddafi's government.
Also Starring Rod Steiger, Irene Papas, Raf Vallone, and John Gielgud
Watch Full Movie:
In1929, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini (Rod Steiger) is still faced with the 20-year long war waged by patriots in Libya to combat Italian colonization and the establishment of 'The Fourth Shore'- the rebirth of a Roman Empire in Africa. Mussolini appoints General Rodolfo Graziani (Oliver Reed) as his sixth governor to Libya, confident that the eminently accredited soldier can crush the rebellion and restore the dissipated glories of Imperial Rome.
Plot ( Warning Spoiler) :
Omar Mukhtar (Anthony Quinn) leads the resistance to the fascists. A teacher by profession, guerilla by obligation, Mukhtar has committed himself to a war that cannot be won in his own lifetime. Graziani controls Libya with the might ofthe Italian Army.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 Berbers suffered heavy losses, their relatively primitive weaponry was no match for mechanized 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 ofmodern weaponry, Graziani recognised the skill of his adversary in waging guerilla warfare. In one scene, Mukhtar refuses to kill a defenseless young officer, instead giving him the Italian flag to returnwith. Mukhtar says that Islam 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 betreated 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, 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; afterward, MPs from Democrazia Proletaria asked Parliament to show the movie at the Chamber of Deputies.
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
CARAVANS: Mike Batt's Music Score for movie Caravans (1978)
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