Lion of the Desert in streaming. In 1929, 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. Omar Mukhtar (Anthony Quinn) leads the resistance to the fascists. A teacher by profession, guerrilla by obligation, Mukhtar had committed himself to a war that cannot be won in his own lifetime. Graziani controls Libya with the might of the 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 imprisoning populations in concentration camps behind barbed wire. Despite their bravery, the Libyan Arabs and Berbers suffered heavy losses, their relatively primitive weaponry was no match for mechanised 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 of modern weaponry, Graziani recognised the skill of his adversary in waging guerrilla warfare. In one scene, Mukhtar refuses to kill a defenseless young officer, instead giving him the Italian flag to return with. 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 be treated as a prisoner of war (which would save him from being hanged). The judge rejects this, and the film ends with Mukthar being publicly executed by hanging.
Eleonora Stathopoulou, Robert Brown, Rodolfo Bigotti, Takis Emmanuel, Adolfo Lastretti, Stefano Patrizi, Gastone Moschin, Andrew Keir, John Gielgud, Rod Steiger, Raf Vallone, Irene Papas, Oliver Reed, Anthony Quinn, Sky du Mont
Directors: Moustapha Akkad
Duration: 173 min
Year of release: 1981
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