From the controversial novella comes the story of a young army officer who finds himself stranded in the Sahara desert. Left to his own devices, Augustin Robert (Beautiful Thing's, Ben Daniels) would surely die...but after... more » stumbling upon mysterious ruins housing a wild leopard, the man and beast form an inextricable bond. The mysteries of Egypt unfold in this mystical and lyrical journey that explores the link between man and beast, an exotic and lustrous experience you'll never forget.« less
"It's hard to add to what the other 5-star reviewers have said. Yes, it will probably not play well to a group of friends on a Saturday night. The movie speaks too deeply for that kind of crowd. But if you allow yourself to listen, it has the power to really move you. This movie is about more than the seemingly sensational man-leopard love affair. It's about what it means to be human, our separation from our fellow creatures, and the ultimate consequences of that separation. The final image sums it all up so powerfully that I am moved to tears just thinking about it. One of the most beautiful (on any level I can think of) and eloquent movies of all time. I wish everyone could see it."
Haunting, Flawless Mirage
JT | Stanford, CA USA | 11/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We hunger for Simoom: that object of intoxicating, addictive, ultimately deadly passion. Simoom, also a Saharan wind, comes from an Arabic word for "poisonous drug". But a poison is only dangerous if consumed, and Balzac's caution for lovers is to deny the overpowering need to consume--or possess. Yet perhaps passion is inevitably consuming...This is a lyrical, stunningly well made production of a tale that should have been impossible to film, and lingers in memory as a shimmering mirage. Its attention to detail, even the tack, weapons and tactics of Napoleonic and Mameluke cavalry, its loving caress of the harsh desert landscape itself, its evocation of oppressive sun, heat, thirst, hunger and desperation, all permit the magical human-djinn-leopard relationship to evolve so naturally: heartbreakingly real yet seductively veiled in entrancing ambiguity. "Passion" is a flawless jewel that may have been lost in the sands but once found, will haunt you for years."
Flawed, terrible beauty
L. House | New York, NY | 11/18/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I can understand Riamon's criticism of the film. The film *is* flawed. Before we meet Simoom the leopardess, the action is forced, the motivations unclear, and, the whole thing seems calculated to steer you into the main action like early horror movies (don't open that door, stupid...why did he open that door? ). Oh, and there are far too many long, lingering shots of augustin doing something narcissitic. That's the bad news.
The good news is this: It is beautiful. Stunning even. And it is a real, completely irony-less, tragedy. After Simoom comes on the scene, the love story happens naturally. Absolutely ineluctable, absolutely effortless, the movie moves towards the tragic ending, as unstoppable as a sandstorm, as quiet as a desert, as relentless as love. The ending was no suprise at all, but haunted me for days afterwards. I loved it."
Saving Private Ryan may win Oscar, but...
L. House | 12/18/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Saving Private Ryan may win the Oscar for best film but hands down the best of 1998 is Passion in the Desert. The beauty and majesty of Eygpt are set against the struggle of one man to find his humanity while the horrors of war rage around him. The relationship forged with a great cat is the path back to his humanity. This film offers many levels of interpretation, and becomes a wonderful example of all movie making can be. The breath taking vistas of the desert are coupled with excellect acting. The controversial novel is brought to life retaining all its power and vitiality. A thought provoking must see."
A song without words.
Shadowfire | College Park, MD | 01/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Passion in the Desert" is not the most original film I've ever, but it comes close. As a previous reviewer has noted, abstracting it into a "man falls in love with leopard" scheme is imperceptive, because, quite frankly, it is not a film about love, but about madness; or perhaps it is about love as madness; or perhaps it is about situations where both love and madness are inapplicable. The film has strong Zen tendencies; it takes long looks. We see desert plants. Occasional animals. Lots of sand. Hot, shifting, yellow sand. Endless expanse of blue, cloudless sky. The camera will hover for a bit, and we're thinking, "This is just setup, there will be a pan to a character, or a gruesome scene," but no, the scenery is the point. It's pretty, and that's enthralling enough.In the beginning of the film we are introduced to Augusten, a soldier of rank in Napoleon's army. Augusten's task is to make sure Venture, the wizened artist sent to capture the charms of Egypt on paper, doesn't come to harm. Lagging behind the rest of the army, the two get lost in a sandstorm ("Simoom - the breath of the desert!"). Soon they are running out of water, and Augusten is on the edge of hysteria ("You can't get lost in Egypt! There's the Nile, and there's the sea!"). The men part. At this point, the film shifts from dialog to pure emotion, pure sensation. There's a nice parallel between the scenes in which Venture drinks his paints ("A tasty color!") and shoots himself, and Augusten puts his dying horse out of its misery. Augusten stumbles into a Bedouin camp and rips open a waterskin and extatically gulps water. There are several such scenes. He is pursued by riders, who draw back when Augusten enters a rocky labyrinth of cliffs and caves ("Let the jinn catch him," they mutter).The film enters the main course when the "jinn" is revealed to be a leopard. At first Augusten hears it, then meets it face to face and is frightened by the beast. The leopard is magnificent. Its eyes glow like candles. At first she treats him like a jackal, only letting him drink after she's done. In another scene she looks on contemptuously as Augustus scurries to a carcass of a deer, but soon this scene becomes a bizarre dinner party. Soon Augusten adapts to the situation. His manner is looser; he has, at least for now, survived. He lounges in the sun; he parades ants ("About face!"). He plays slow-motion cat and mouse with the leopard. Perhaps he is mad, perhaps he simply has nothing else to do. As the beast gets used to his presence, even comes to enjoy it, Augusten falls in love with her, possibly to humour himself. He follows it, suggesting names. He holds her by the front paws and dances. They caress and lick each other. There's a nice scene where Augusten pretends to be a jinn and steals a goat kid from a herder boy, and a scene wher Simoom seems to prefer another leopard to him, so he paints spots on himself...The sound track is an eclectic mix of symphonic and eastern melodies, harmoniously accenting scenes. It is another venue of communication in a film that largely eschews dialog in favor of visual and aural lexicons, and meets great success."