Passion in the Desert (1997) - Rotten Tomatoes

Passion in the Desert1997

Passion in the Desert (1997)



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.

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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 (5)

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.

April 4, 2007 | Rating: C+
Top Critic

Passion in the Desert is a brave folly of a film, easy to laugh at but deserving a certain respect, if only because it involves such a foolish and difficult story.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

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.

December 15, 2012 | Full Review…

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

November 24, 2007 | Rating: 3/5

Simply gorgeous.

January 4, 2005 | Full Review…

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

March 2, 2002 | Full Review…

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