Lion of the Desert (Omar Mukhtar) (1981) - Rotten Tomatoes

Lion of the Desert (Omar Mukhtar) (1981)




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Movie Info

Libyan leader Moummar Quaddafi financed this desert epic about a Libyan hero who helped his nation fend off an Italian invasion in 1929. Anthony Quinn stars as Omar Mukhtar, who organizes Libyan forces to hold off the encroaching Italian troops under General Rodolfo Graziana (Oliver Reed), who are trying to gain a foothold on Libyan soil under direct orders from the Italian dictator Mussolini (Rod Steiger). With the persistence of Mukhtar, the Libyans, battling the tanks and guns of the Italian army with their Bedouin troops on horseback, managed to hold off y the Italians for twenty years, until Mukhtar was finally captured and executed. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi
Action & Adventure , Classics , Drama
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Anchor Bay Entertainment

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Anthony Quinn
as Omar Mukhtar
Oliver Reed
as Gen. Rodolfo Graziani
Rod Steiger
as Benito Mussolini
John Gielgud
as Sharif El Gariani
Irene Papas
as Mabrouka
Raf Vallone
as Diodiece
Gastone Moschin
as Maj. Tomelli
Takis Emmanuel
as Bu-Matari
Stefano Patrizi
as Lt. Sandrini
Robert Brown
as Al-Fadeel
Eleonora Stathopoulou
as Ali's Mother
Andrew Keir
as Salem
George Sweeney
as Capt. Biagi
Pietro Tordi
as Field Marshal
Sky Dumont
as Prince Amadeo
Franco Fantasia
as Gen. Graziani's Aide
Mark Colleano
as Infantry Corporal
Adolfo Lastretti
as Col. Sarsani
Claudio Gora
as President of Court
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News & Interviews for Lion of the Desert (Omar Mukhtar)

Critic Reviews for Lion of the Desert (Omar Mukhtar)

All Critics (5)

It's one of the best anti-colonial Hollywood film ever (almost on a par with the Battle of Algiers).

Full Review… | July 18, 2011
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

An anti-colonial work that resonates with the struggle in Iraq today.

Full Review… | November 18, 2006

A grand epic adventure that'll stand as a highpoint in the producing career of Moustapha Akkad

March 18, 2006
Film Threat

Lion of the Desert portrays a heroic figure who understands and exemplifies the spiritual dimensions of freedom.

Full Review… | January 31, 2004
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Lion of the Desert (Omar Mukhtar)


Lion of the Desert possesses several problems that generally prove to be staples of historical epics (thinly-drawn characters, overwhelmingly bloated length, well-trod narrative dynamic focusing on a rebellion and an evil empire), and makes several ethical missteps by casting white actors to play Libyan historical icons. That being said, there are poignant moments, such as the intercutting of actual footage of Libyan concentration camps and the several excellently staged battle sequences. Flawed as it may be (there's no excuse for its nearly four hour running time), Lion of the Desert still effectively deconstructs the effects of Italian fascism and powerfully condemns western imperialism; these are enough to make it a success.

Reece Leonard
Reece Leonard

Underrated epic war movie on the end of Libya's resistance to Italy. Everything works and best of all the history is not even that far off. Oliver Reed makes for a great villain, combing charisma with a ruthless drive. The part where the tanks run people over is gruesome and horrifying.

Sean Chick
Sean Chick

Loved this movie, learned so much from it. I didn't really know anything about how Libya was occupied by Italian fascists during WW1. I didn't realize they had concentration camps back then. Saw this on TCM, it was introduced by a professor of Arabian studies, who thought this was the most sympathetic movie towards the Arabian people ever made. It's the only film that shows children being peaceful taught the Koran. Since the Libyans financed the movie, it was branded as propaganda, so it didn't get good reception or distribution. Really, who else was going to tell this story? It was banned in Italy because they couldn't deal with their past, and the professor said it was very historically accurate. Glad I stayed up for it, I never would have heard about it otherwise. Sad, but interesting and moving.

Susan Patton
Susan Patton

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