Michael KreponThe Wind and the Lion

For those seeking relief from the news coming out of Syria, Iraq, and Libya, I highly recommend watching The Wind and the Lion, a 1975 flick by John Milius. Sean Connery, at the peak of his powers, plays Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli, an untamed tribal of the Rif, who spirits away a miscast Candice Bergen and her two children. Connery is such a powerful screen presence that he plays the part of a Berber brigand with a Scottish brogue, and all is forgiven. He goes up against another force of nature, President Teddy Roosevelt, played brilliantly by Brian Keith. TR is beginning to feel his age while America is growing into its powers. Acting out of a mix of chivalry and geopolitical opportunity, he sends U.S. expeditionary forces to release the American captives. The fabulous John Huston plays Secretary of State John Hay as a wise and weary man who knows the limits of his persuasive powers when dealing with TR.

Raisuli roams as free as the wind; TR roars like a lion. Each admires what the other enjoys. TR feels confined in the White House; Raisuli has too few muskets and tribesmen to go up against the U.S. Marines. Candice Bergen’s disgust with her captor slowly turns to fascination and attraction, as we fully expect. The movie ends with everyone feeling wistful along with the triumph of the martial American spirit in a strange and distant land.

Hollywood can’t make a movie like this now because audiences are sadder and wiser. Movies about post-9/11 U.S. military campaigns are shaded in darkness and brutality. Even America’s apex heroic moment – settling scores with Osama bin Laden – is depicted in Zero Dark Thirty as an unfair fight enabled by torture. Desert windstorms have become lethal and unpredictable. The lion is a wounded, foreign presence. Those looking for diversion at the movies have moved on to computer-generated images and Marvel superheroes.

Comments

  1. Jon (History)

    Yes, the sun has set on the Age of Innocence.

  2. Davey (History)

    The Wind and the Lion is one of my favorite movies from my college days, when they set up a 16mm projector in the union building.

    The cast was absolutely awesome, but the best part is the Marines double-timing to the rescue with their spanking new 30-40 Krags and awesome new technology – a carriage mounted machine gun.

    It’s too bad that even I think that the movie is pretty sappy. Hmmm… I’ll check NetFix just in case.

  3. Bradley Laing (History)

    —The contest to reuse a Soviet Era Typhoon Class Submarine has ended.

    http://matterbetter.com/blog/article/24

    TYPHOON CLASS SUBMARINE: WINNERS
    19 SEP 2014
    Welcome the WINNERS of the Typhoon Class Submarine competition!

  4. Bradley Laing (History)

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2014/09/27/travel/yumenoshima-pleasure-terror-tokyos-island-trash/#.VCeeN2ddVAA

    Zigzagging down a gradual slope on the west side of the park, I find a striking steel structure. Upon entering, I’m dwarfed by the looming hull of a 28.5-meter wooden fishing vessel. Staring up at its hawseholes far overhead, it’s sobering to realize this is the ill-fated Daigo Fukuryu Maru (SS Lucky Dragon 5), which was coated in radioactive fallout from the H-bomb Castle Bravo, detonated on March 1, 1954, by the United States on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. All 23 crew members onboard at the time suffered acute radiation poisoning, despite being outside the “danger zone,” and the boat’s chief radio operator, Aikichi Kuboyama, died about six months later at age 40…

    The ship was, in fact, nearly lost. Once decontaminated and renamed, it was employed as a university fisheries training vessel and, later, for commercial work. Finally abandoned, it bobbed amongst floating refuse near Yumenoshima until media brought attention to the ship’s plight. Loath to let this reminder of the destructive force of nuclear weapons sink, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government built this exhibition hall to house it. The building — designed by Shigehiko Sugi, Mitsuaki Miyata and Shinichi Izumi — is worth admiring; it mimics the simple, protective strength of a clam shell.

  5. Cameron (History)

    I recall seeing this movie as a teenager, and having trouble not utilizing my powers of adolecent sarcasm about everyone wondering what kind of rifle the other people used. That point’s still stuck with me.

    As far as cinema goes, it’s like The Quiet Man, a film I can only watch with my critical self turned off. It’s also high on the list of accents Sean Connery has pretended sounded like Scottish, the worst offender being Highlander.

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