New to Blu-ray: Lion of the Desert (1981)

  • Director: Moustapha Akkad
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: November 12, 2013
  • Run Time: 156 minutes



            Lion of the Desert is actually a rather good epic, taken in the vein of Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and other epics from the 1960s. The biggest problem is that this film doesn’t seem to have grown any in the two decades since epics such as this had passed in popularity, and that may be why it resulted in one of the largest financial disasters in cinematic history. Costing 35 million dollars to make, it only made 1 million worldwide, banked by Libya’s own dictator, Colonel Muammar Gadaffi.


            Behind all of the interesting film history is a movie which is often quite entertaining, if not a bit long and over-ambitious. The film’s main focus of the film is the guerilla warfare waged by Omar Mukhtar (Anthony Quinn) and his followers, Bedouin patriots in Libya fighting the Italian colonization in 1929 by Dictator Benito Mussolini. In an effort to get rid of the pesky resistance fighters, General Rodolfo Graziana (Oliver Reed) is appointed as sixth Governor to Libya. Despite an army of men and brilliant minds attempting to stop him, Mukhtar is able to become a menace to the Italian army by evading them in the deserts and mountains.


            Expansive photography and countless sequences of grand spectacle and remarkable large cast make Lion of the Desert something worth having in high definition. The special features are missing, though this release is called a “Collector’s Edition.” I suppose it is something to have this film on Blu-ray, though it is hard to imagine they couldn’t come up with a single special feature from a film made in the 1980s.  


    Entertainment Value: 7/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10

    Historical Significance: 8/10

    Disc Features: 0/10



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