Passion in the Desert (1997) - Rotten Tomatoes

Passion in the Desert (1997)

Passion in the Desert (1997)

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

First time director Lavina Currier utilizes the stark beauty of the Jordan and Utah deserts to create a gorgeous backdrop (filmed by noted Russian cinematographer Alexei Rodionov) for her haunting, richly textured adaptation of Balzac's rumination on human nature versus the natural world -- set in 1798 Egypt during the time when Napoleon launched an ill-fated campaign upon the country. Augustin Robert (Ben Daniels) is a young officer who has been commissioned by Napoleon to accompany the painter Jean-Michel Venture de Paradis to create detailed renderings of the ancient desert monuments before the rapacious French soldiers destroy them. The two are travelling with a regiment until they are separated by an ambush of Mamulke warriors. Together, they brave heat, lack of water and terrible sandstorms until the desperate painter commits suicide and leaves the tattered and nearly dead Augustin alone. Eventually, Augustin wanders into a deep canyon and finds himself surrounded by ancient ruins. He finds himself facing a leopard, but the creature does not kill him. Instead the two gradually become friends, with the great cat showing Augustin a water source. The leopard even shares its kills with the soldier, and as time passes Augustin becomes as wild and uncivilized as his spotted companion whom he names Simoom (meaning breath of the desert). They communicate via gesture and become quite close until Augustin finds himself faced once again with the lure of civilization, an irresistible force that leads to a tragedy. In keeping with the theme of becoming one with nature, the film contains little dialog, choosing instead to focus upon the majesty of Augustin's new world.
  • Rating:
    PG-13
  • Genre:
  • Directed By:
  • Written By:
  • In Theaters:
     wide
  • On DVD:
  • Runtime:
  • Studio:
    Fine Line Features

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Cast

Ben Daniels
as Augustin Robert
Michel Piccoli
as Jean-Michel Venture de Paradis
Paul Meston
as Grognard
Nadi Odeh
as Bedouin Bride
Nadia Odeh
as Bedouin Bride
Mohammed Ali
as Medicine Man
James Peck
as Soldier
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Critic Reviews for Passion in the Desert

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (4)

Part an adventurous love story between a man and a leopard, part a metaphysical meditation about the mysteries of Nature, Lavinia Currier's feature directorial debut is dramatically inert but visually striking.

Full Review… | April 4, 2007
Variety
Top Critic

An impressive feature film debut for filmmaker Lavinia Currier. With the exception of one scene that crosses the line, her work here shows intelligence, sensitivity, artistry, and courage.

Full Review… | December 15, 2012
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

A shameless art movie about a man falling in love with a wild leopard; that takes guts.

November 24, 2007
ColeSmithey.com

Simply gorgeous.

Full Review… | January 4, 2005
StaciWilson.com

A beautiful film brimming with breathtaking scenes of danger, wonder and the communion between man and beast.

Full Review… | March 2, 2002
Spirituality and Practice

While Currier's film is beautifully photographed, it's so far-fetched and so anachronistic, without the benefit of an overriding vision, that it simply ends up being monotonous.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Film Journal International

Audience Reviews for Passion in the Desert

Part an adventurous love story between a man and a leopard, part a metaphysical meditation about the mysteries of Nature, Lavinia Currier's feature directorial debut is dramatically inert but visually striking.

Lee Mayo
Lee Mayo

Near flawless execution; extremely unique and memorable; full of simple yet deep allegory. An almost perfect film.

Adam Gre Gore Check
Adam Gre Gore Check

It's Man meets beast in this very odd love story between an almost starving French-Napoleonic-Egyptian-Sahara-desert-soldier and a leopard who take a weird affection to the soldier... I'm guessing Balzac's story must read very lyrical, but the story here is just off somewhere and it made me think that maybe, thirst and starvation can make a guy do freaky things. I wonder if between scenes some man-leopard love got cut in the editing room. Good cinematography.

Dr. AlphonSeuss
Dr. AlphonSeuss

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