The Arab-American Moustapha Akkad produced and directed the film in Libya with Gaddafi's full support. The laws of war at the time would have been the Hague Regulations. The Italian Royal Army was left astonished and embarrassed by his guerrilla tactics. They had particular problems with catering, as all the food had to be bussed in, meat being particularly problematic as in this desert area of Libya, cold storage was virtually unheard of. Or so I was informed whilst on holiday in Tunisia. I was surprised that I had never heard of the film as it uses such star actors as Quinn, Gielgud, Papas, Steiger and Oliver Reed.
Oliver Reed plays a suitably ruthless General Graziani, the man charged with crushing Mukhtar. Some viewers may think that all this is probably a bit over the top. Between 1927 and 1928, Mukhtar reorganised the forces, who were being hunted constantly by the Italians. Mukhtar developed a strong relationship with the Senussid Movement during his years in Jaghbub, in 1895, Al-Mahdi Senoussi traveled with him south to , and on another occasion further south to Karo in Chad, where he was appointed as of Zawiyat Ayn Kalk, when the in 1899 he was sent among other Senussites to help defend from the invaders, as the Senussi considered their expansion dangerous for their Missionary activity in Central and West Africa. Beginning in 1911, he organised and, for nearly twenty years, led the against the colonial Italians during the.
The Omar Mukhtar character is accorded a great deal of dignity and honour. However, his troops are frequently defeated by the national leader Omar Mukhtar and his army of Bedouins. The Raf Vallone character is particularly sympathetic- very courteous, generous and kind to the captive Mukhtar. Some Arabs were willing to collaborate with an Italian rule which was helping to modernise their country. All the materials for the creation of this village were shipped out from England. These measures, which Graziani initiated early in 1931, took their toll on the Senusite resistance. In the end, Mukhtar is captured and tried as a rebel.
On the other hand we have two sympathetic Italian officers whose conscience is afflicted by by the war they are forced to wage. The scene concludes by telling us that the characters and the events in this film are real and based on historical facts. The film emphasises the central role of Islam in giving Omar the inner strength to continue his fight. The whole project is carried quite professionally with every aspect taken care of and every point well thought of. Anthony Quinn and Oliver Reed give stunning performances well worthy of remembrance. The film is hagiography but so are 'Spartacus', 'Ben-Hur', 'El Cid' and scores of other epics.
His lawyer, Captain Lontano, states that since Mukhtar had never accepted Italian rule, he cannot be tried as a rebel, and instead must be treated as a which would save him from being hanged. This scene is then contrasted with a scene of Omar Al-Mokhtar, the old teacher who turned into a fighting rebel during the Italian colonization, teaching his young students in Libya. In his biography of Mussolini, the eminent historian Denis Mack Smith maintains that this did happen in Libya. At the start to set the scene of the Italian conquest of Libya from Turkey in 1911. If possible, verify the text with references provided in the foreign-language article. He knew local geography well and used that knowledge to advantage in battles against the Italians, who were unaccustomed to desert warfare.
I would not accept this view as all imperialisms are self-justifying and ultimately unacceptable. Omar Al-Mokhtar shows great resistance and wisdom in leading the resistance movement. In March, 1927, despite occupation of from February 1926 and increasingly stringent rule under Governor , Mukhtar surprised Italian troops at. The film credits Graziani wrongly? But the Butcher of Ethiopia and Libya uses a dirty war against the natives, slaughtering women, children, and aged people, to subdue Mukhtar. The Italians also committed atrocities: killing of prisoners of war, destruction of crops, and imprisoning populations in behind barbed wire. Rod Steiger blusters through his role as Mussolini, the fascist dictator who wants to send Italian colonists to a peaceful Libya, an ambition being thwarted by Omar Mukhtar's stubborn 20-year long armed resistance. After many attempts, the Italian Armed Forces managed to capture Al-Mukhtar near and hanged him in 1931.
Some historians would argue that Mukhtar's defeat and death paved the way for the enlightened rule of Italo Balbo who governed a 'pacified' Libya after 1934 with few executions and much building of infrastructure. The rebels were deprived of help and reinforcements, spied upon, hit by Italian aircraft, and pursued on the ground by the Italian forces aided by local informers and collaborators. The film starts by introducing the audience to the historical context of the film. Lion of the Desert is the dramatic action epic of the struggle of Omar Mukhtar, leader of the Muslim resistance in North Africa in the 1920's and 30's, against the imperialism of Mussolini and the Italian army. Despite their lack of modern weaponry, Graziani recognised the skill of his adversary in waging.
Graziani controls Libya with the might of the Italian Royal Army. . . Akkad uses original black and white archive film to underpin its historical authenticity. Reed gives a very controlled performance, one of his best. There is a very engaging private dialogue between himself and the captive Mukhtar. Omar was endowed with a quick and lively intelligence; was knowledgeable in religious matters, and revealed an energetic and impetuous character, unselfish and uncompromising; ultimately, he remained very religious and poor, even though he had been one of the most important Senusist figures.