The movie is set in the time of the Libyan rebel against the italian rule. During 1911-1931. The world was already recovering from world war, and Libya was a simple but somewhat under-advanced country. Libyan people were simple men and women cared little for freedom. They needed a leader and Omar Mukhtar proved to be that.
The movie is set in 1911-1931. Right in between both world wars. Libya was doing well. It was producing fine public education, free healthcare, amazing industry, and someone wanted a piece of it. Mussolini, he wanted it to be his and brought Italian Imperialism to Libya as a part of its colonization strategy.
Omar Mukhtar was the Leader of the Libyan resistance against the Italian regime in a time of Genocide & War. And he was just a school teacher. The kind that was able to organize 1000-3000 fighters, and fight for 20 years.
He was hung till death for the resistance once captured. Here’s the plot:
He is a Simple school teacher, living a simple lifestyle. But, A Man of Principles & Courage. So, The Italians invade Libya. Therefore: The school teacher must turn into a war hero. Result: A Fearless Libyan Arab Freedom Fighter.
But rest is shown, he is not scared, he is unapologetic for wanting freedom. The audience must know their history and The cruelty of the Italians to the harmless Muslim nation.
The movie does not reflect upon the childhood of Omar Mukhtar, what made him this way, how can the audience give their children the same nurturing as him, so their kids can be like him, the recipe is missing. But, the events are there. It is all truthfully told. And on top of that, it’s a non-Hollywood movie. One of the best-told documentaries of all time. Directed by none other than the man who made The Messenger happen.
Director Moustapha Akkad’s (Syrian American Filmmaker) unique style shines through in the whole film. Showing strong narratives with absolutely life-like real props, smallest detail from pens, books, chairs, glassware, and pots. Excellent wardrobe selection, simple but extremely believable art direction, makes actors express pure emotions and subtle acting that looks effortless yet perfect.
Anthony Quinn went through a complete transformation, looks real. Expressions of an ‘Old man with a wild youth’ and!! who are still not tired or ashamed. Carries the shameless, guilt-free look throughout the movie, this gives the audience the message that true heroes do everything to prevent any regrets. Do everything possible and do it with style and grace. Here are the top 3 most powerful scenes from the movie:
- Few men, battle with a lot of men, who have heavy arms, a lot of ammunition and its set in the desert. The landscape is used beautifully, the mystery is built through exploring different angles like areas behind trees, behind trenches and with the desert sand
- He asks for clean water when he can ask for any material luxury, people usually ask for the last meal before they are hanged, but he cleans himself and prays, without regret, without pain
- Twenty thousand concentration camp victims and military nobles were forced to watch Omar Mukhtar’s death. The film attempts to provoke an emotional response by focusing on a small boy in the crowd, implying that he is the next generation of Libyan rebel. (to be continued feel) (hope) emotions of the child and the graphics hanging of an old man is what makes the scene so powerful and painful for the viewer at the same time.
When I was analyzing the documentary I thought about this long and hard: How can such a movie be loved so much, despite being a fail on the box office front. The answer was that the movie records the life of the fighters who stood with Omar Mukhtar, and he himself, to show to the future generations that greatness is not an attribute of the rich and famous, dedication and passion bring success and respect. People must aspire to be better, The movie documents Libyan history, the movie was funded by Colonel Gaddafi, who ironically was a one-man show too, but, it gave Libya a voice. The kind of voice where it is loud and bold, and powerful. It was not made for profits, profits would have made the movie commercial, mediocre and reduced the worth to the price of its ticket.