The Real Lion of The Desert

Through an Arabic Lens: the Intersection of Film and Culture

by Sebastian Brito

The filmLion of the Desert, directed by Moustapha Akkad, is a pivotal period piece in Libya’s history for a multitude of reasons. Released in 1980, the film’s 2 hour and 53-minute runtime transcend that of its longevity, transporting the viewer to the early twentieth- century wartime era. This desert masterpiece is about Libyan leader, Omar Mukhtar, played by Anthony Quinn, fending off Italian oppression under the command of General Rodolfo Graziana, played by Oliver Reed and Benito Mussolini, who was played by Rod Steiger. Akkad directs a very realistic portrayal of fascist Italy in the pre- World War 2 era, not shying away from introducing heartbreaking deaths and dark visuals throughout the film. Regardless of its cruelty, the film also develops themes of resilience and optimism spearheaded by Mukhtar.

The legend, Omar Mukhar is a wise and educated Bedouin, entrusting his faith in God to…

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