Il Deserto dei Tartari (The Desert of the Tartars) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Il Deserto dei Tartari (The Desert of the Tartars) Reviews

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May 31, 2014
Boring, though the scenery and cast is awesome.
July 23, 2012
One should watch The Desert of the Tartars twice because the first time is spent trying to overcome the films seemingly monotonous store and understand its underlying theme while the second time is spent appreciating the artistic aspects that enhanced the visual style that made this a classic film.
Descriptions of Valerio Zurlini‚(TM)s theatrical interpretation of Dino Buzzati‚(TM)s novel provided by other reviewers contain expressions such as ‚a classic of surreal literature ‚¶ a nightmarish and dark vision of humanity and its shortcomings,‚? ‚a metaphor of ‚¶ spiritual imprisonment,‚? ‚mystical challenges of the landscape,‚? and ‚Kafkaesque symbolism.‚? However, the temptation to ascribe the label of surreal to anything strange is overplayed in the film based on my interpretation as well as in the novel according to Parks.
The dialogue is sparse but reflective of the high desert altitude in which the story is set and yet there are tones of human warmth in the comradeship of solders. Captain Horitz‚(TM)s description of Fort Bastiano‚(TM)s location to Lieutenant Drogo as: ‚A border with nothing on the other side of it. Beyond the Fort is a desert ‚¶ and then nothing‚? conveys the feeling of alienation while the doctor‚(TM)s reply to Drago‚(TM)s statement that he has been assigned of this outpost by mistake: ‚Here or elsewhere ‚¶ we‚(TM)re all somewhere by mistake‚? alludes to a more fundamental question; that question involves existence, what is its purpose and what is beyond it? Clearly the film has an existential flavor rather than one of surreality which juxtaposes objects within an irrational environment in order to see reality. An existential viewpoint is further buttressed by the use of field glasses throughout the film to peer into the mist and darkness beyond the Fort‚(TM)s border in order to unravel what lies beyond. There is an expectation of hope among of some within the confines of the Fort conflicted with an irrational bureaucratic policy that will not acknowledge anything beyond.
Part of the preoccupation with surreality by others may be due to the influence of the Italian surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico on the production of the film and his painting "La Torre Rossa" is claimed by others to have been influential in the selection of the 14th Century fortress of Bam in southeastern Iran to shoot the film. While this painting certainly evokes a feeling reminiscent of the film‚(TM)s location, such a feeling is lost upon closer inspection due to the modernity of the tower‚(TM)s surrounding structures. Nonetheless, the film‚(TM)s visual style has been claimed by Caputo to be directly influenced by de Chirico's La m¬īeditation automnale (1912), La m¬īelancolie (1912), and L‚(TM)¬īenigme d‚(TM)une journ¬īee (1914) and the use of the mannequin as ‚one of the most crucial and diffuse icons of the Metaphysical School.‚? According to Caputo, Zurlini incorporated de Chirico's visual style to bring out the visual dimension of the of Buzzati's novel; ‚The most sophisticated film adaptations involve words filtered through the discourse of the visual.‚?


Rolando Caputo, Literary Cineastes: The Italian Novel and the Cinema, in The Cambridge Companion to the Italian Novel Edited by Peter Bondanella and Andrea Ciccarelli.

Tim Parks, "Throwing Down a Gauntlet," The Threepenny Review Winter 2001
June 27, 2011
A great existential downer of a movie (that's a positive review from me).
½ May 14, 2011
Slow-paced drama about a young officer's first assignment at a border post. It's a film about boredom that happens to take big jumps in time, as the officer's stay lengthens and rumors of the Tartars abound. It's also a film a little about fate, as many believe they're meant to be there, awaiting the attack that never seems to come.
½ March 31, 2011
(*** 1/2): Thumbs Up

A haunting and hypnotic film at times. Well-acted and directed.
January 15, 2011
Amazing. Great great great film. The book was also a great book, but unbielievably the movie was nearly as good. Difficoult, considering a film without a lot of action could end up being boring or unwatchable, while this one does not.
Super Reviewer
½ November 5, 2010
[font=Century Gothic]In "The Desert of the Tartars", it is 1907 and recently graduated Lieutenant Drogo(Jacques Perrin) has been assigned to Fort Bastiano, on the edge of the empire on the boundary with the Northern Kingdom. The fort is in the middle of a desert and days away from civilization. After a few months, Drogo has had enough and attempts to use a loophole to effect a transfer.[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]"The Desert of the Tartars" is a meditative and beautiful movie that provides keen insight into the military mentality by showing what happens when a soldier is trained for combat, but there is none to be had.(I can think of much worse things that could happen.) Basically, it involves a disciplined routine that includes constant training and preparations.[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]And on that note, I will be on vacation starting tomorrow, and returning to these pages on Monday, March 26.[/font]
October 18, 2010
Amazing. Great great great film. The book was also a great book, but unbielievably the movie wa
October 9, 2010
Non Ť un libro adattabile allo schermo. Piuttosto noioso, e a mio parere non rispetta aspetti essenziali del libro, il che toglie al tutto un po' di senso
May 11, 2009
some of the scenery was interesting, but the plot just didn't grab me
April 26, 2008
Con un reparto excepcional de estrellas, esta es quizas la pelicula mas poetica jamas filmada. Adeptos al cine comercial, de accion digital ( o de mera entretencion), abstenganse...
February 13, 2008
I think it's the only movie I liked as much as the book. Zurlini filmed exactly what Buzzati wrote. Great.
October 21, 2007
I saw this movie when I lived in Nigeria in akind of base camp fenced by heavy walls...I felt like Drogo living in Bastiano Fort.The all life of this men waiting for the Tartars attack...It¬īs a movie full of cynism and hit you on the condition of pride and life choices.
I will always remember it as a masterpiece guide for the ones who are afraid of taking heavy decisions compelling consequences on their lives.
September 7, 2007
Quite a fascinating movie. I was thinking what a movie this was, an ideal, the power that ideas have over man. A group of men, the crown jewel of the empire are to protect a distant fort against Tartars and we see basically this whole garrison where they are isolated and all we see in this space are the way the different characters link up with each other. Pride, vanity are contrasted with good and we see the one that wins over the other. It's very cold and cynical, a modernist film perhaps, the soundtrack adding towards the feel. I can't help but feel that this movie will always remain with me, in a disturbing way.
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