Today I watched on MBC2 Mustafa El Akkad’s “Lion Of the Desert”. What an amazing movie! It is just so great… Too bad it was considered as one of the largest financial disasters in film history ( The film cost approximately $35 million but only managed to gross about $1 million worldwide).
The antagonists, Omar Muktar played by Anthony Quinn, and Gen. Graziani, played by Oliver Reed, only have one scene together. And it is such a memorable scene.
Another interesting detail: Italian authorities banned the movie in 1982 because, in the words of prime minister Giulio Andreotti (later found guilty of supporting the mafia in about the same years), as it was considered “damaging to the Army’s honour”. The last act of the government against the movie was on April 7, 1987, in Trento; after this event, MPs from Democrazia Proletaria asked the Parliament to show the movies at the Chamber of Deputies itself.
Here are some info on the REAL Omar Mukhtar from Wikipedia:Omar Mukhtar (Arabic عمر المختار ‘Umar Al-Mukhtār) (1862 – September 16, 1931) was from the tribe of Mnifa, born in a small village called Janzour located in the the eastern part of Barqa- not to be confused with the city of western Libya called Janzour which is more well known. He was the leader of the resistance movement against the Italian military occupation of Libya for more than twenty years. In 1912, following the Italian capture of Libya from the occupying Turks the previous year, Omar Mukhtar organized and devised strategies for the Libyan resistance against the Italian colonization.
A teacher of the quran by profession, Mukhtar was also skilled in desert tactics. He knew his country’s geography well, and used that knowledge to his advantage in battles against the Italians, who were not accustomed to desert warfare. He repeatedly led his small, highly alert groups in successful attacks against the Italians, after which they would fade back into the desert terrain. Mukhtar’s men skillfully attacked outposts, ambushed troops, and cut lines of supply and communication. The Italians were left astonished and embarrassed to have been outsmarted and tricked by mere “bedouin.” Mukhtar’s nearly twenty year struggle came to an end when he became wounded in battle and was subsequently captured by the Italian army. The Libyan hero was treated like a prize catch by the Italians.
See the photo of his capture? They are proud as if he was a captured beast!!! shame on colonialism!!
In his trial, he said:The people of the cities hated me because I brought them bad luck, and I hated them in return because they did not help the cause of their religion, for which alone I fought.He also mentioned that his son (Mohamed Sahle) at that time was 13 years old and was in Egypt. I tried to google him but didn’t reach anything…
Anyway, a deep sense of respect for such great man is filling me after watching the movie. And chapeau for Mostafa Akkad.