MovieChat Forums > Lion of the Desert (1980) Discussion > Instructive movie and not badly made

Instructive movie and not badly made


I have recently watched this movie, which is now available on YouTube. I was surprised I had never even heard about it, but then researched a bit about the story of its making and and I understood. I'm Italian and in Italy the movie was de facto banned because it speaks about a story Italians don't want to know.

But first, about the movie. It is maybe a bit too long, but it tries to cover a long story. So the length is understandable. Actors in the movie are quite good and the filming itself is good. It would have deserved more luck, but it had the misfortunes of speaking about an Arab fighter against a European colonial power (a kind of hero the west wouldn't care about) and to have been produced with the help and money of a dictator who was busy having conflicts with western countries which hampered its distribution.

If you can catch it, watch. It's an interesting movie, history aside.

Now. I am Italian and I feel I should address the matter of this movie in a different way. Which other commenters also did in posts under mine. The movie does make the Arab fighters look more heroic and honest and also more effective than they were. The Libyan revolt against Italians did kill prisoners and sometimes in horrible ways. On the other hand, the Italian occupation was ruthless, and also committed crimes against the civilian population (I read accounts of rapes and murders from diaries of Italian people - that was 20 years before the events in the movies though).

Now, in the context, it appears to me that Libyan rebels were more on the right side of things than Italian colonial troops were.

I know that even now in Italy, the movie is vilified from (far) right wing people, adored from a small group of (far) left wing people, ignored totally by most. I think it should be seen more, and accompanied by a review of those years and events. I grew up in Italy in the eighties. I heard many times how Italy was unjustly "cut off" from having her colonies while other European powers went and colonized the world (Graziani in the movie brings forward this view which was popular with Italians until very few years ago - I even heard it from my history teacher in high school). TV told me many times that poor Italians living in Libya were expropriated and expelled. I never once heard of people killed in those colonies. Or that those expropriated lands had been taken from Libyan people 60 years before. Or of rebellions. Of killings. Or of any crimes committed. I believe millions of other Italians never did (but I will add that the "they didn't let poor Italy have her colonies!" view is also finally gone now). It seems to me after the war, Italy, like Japan, took the view of "we never really did anything wrong, we were only victims of the Germans and of fascism" (Japanese people have a slightly different attitude, but that's digressing too much) and I believe this should change. More people watching this kind of movies might be a start.

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