Thursday Movie Pick #19: Deserts

Welcome back to Thursday Movie Picks by Wandering through the Shelves! According to the theme of the week, we pick and share three to five movies are with the reason. Should anyone be interested in joining in, feel free to visit the main page here.

This week’s theme is Desert. For this theme, I’ll go with popular choices and big names. Desert has always been an immense setting for films — whether to mark wastelands, post-apocalyptic, expedition, wars, nature powers… and romance. So, here’s my picks!

01. The English Patient (1996, Anthony Minghella)

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The English Patient (1996) – Kristin Scott Thomas & Ralph Fiennes

In Anthony Minghella’s best picture winner, desert becomes the place where it all started—the love affair between Count Almasy (Fiennes) and someone’s wife. As a film, The English Patient is ambitious in every possible way; it is as captivating as Ralph Fiennes’ performance and chemistry with Kristin Scott Thomas and others. Yet, the desert always becomes an important point of the storytelling (yes, that sex scene, too).

02. Tracks (2013, John Curran)

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Tracks (2013) – Mia Wasikowska

Tracks chronicles a real-life journey that Australian writer, Robyn Davidson (portrayed by Mia Wasikowska), has walked across desert for 2,700 kilometers. Ambition, contemplation and self-acceptance color Mia Wasikowska’s stunning performance… with camels and dog.

03. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015, George Miller)

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Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Desert, as a wasteland, has never been this stunning. Namibian desert is made into a dystopian Australian wasteland in this high-octane film. Desert is infused with striking visuals and Oz-pera metal riffs in Fury Road, as it made like a setting of a 3-minute progressive death metal anthem itself—with excessive drum solo and versatile guitar distortion. It was straight-forward, violent, but philosophically enticing.

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10 thoughts on “Thursday Movie Pick #19: Deserts”

  1. While I didn’t hate The English Patient I was underwhelmed by it considering it won Best Picture. Both Fiennes and KST as well as Juliette Binoche were excellent but once was enough for me.

    Fury Road is certainly the title of the week. Again I didn’t love the film but I liked it more than I expected to. It definitely moved that’s for sure.

    Haven’t seen Tracks but it sounds interesting I’ll have to seek it out.

    I was tempted to do an all Western theme considering so many are set in the desert but went in a couple different directions instead.

    The Desert Song (1953)-Sometimes a movie is just so wildly miscast that you love it more for its faults than its strengths, that’s the case with this operetta. The basic story goes like so: There’s a civil war between Morocco’s Berber and Arab populations in the early 1900’s. French Foreign Legionnaire Gen. Birabeau arrives with daughter Margot (Kathryn Grayson) in tow to check the war’s progress while Arab Sheik Yousseff schemes to discredit the mysterious opposition leader El Khobar (Margot’s tutor in disguise) while Margot and El Khobar fall in love. Simple enough but what ratchets up the absurdity factor is that the Sheik is played by Raymond Massey, famous for playing Abraham Lincoln!, while El Khobar the Berber rebel leader is Gordon MacRae…that’s right Curley from Oklahoma!! If you can look beyond that the strapping Gordon and the lovely Kathryn are in great voice and the score is terrific but if you’re looking for realism look elsewhere.

    Rawhide (1951)-Feisty young Vinnie Holt (Susan Hayward) traveling with her orphaned niece Callie is stranded at the remote stagecoach stop “Rawhide Pass” in the acrid desert of the old West with stationmaster Sam Todd (Edgar Buchanan) and his assistant Tom Owens (Tyrone Power) when the cavalry won’t permit her to proceed through dangerous territory because of a stage robbery. After the soldiers leave, Jim Zimmerman (Hugh Marlowe) bluffs his way into the station saying he’s a guard but is actually one of the escaped convicts responsible for the robbery. His three fellow escapees quickly appear intent on stealing the gold shipment due in the next day. After killing Sam they must keep Tom and Vinnie, who they mistakenly believe is his wife, alive to carry out their plan. As the four men turn on each other Tom & Vinnie work together to try and escape. Tight suspenseful Western.

    Five Graves to Cairo (1943)-British Corporal John Bramble (Franchot Tone) is the lone survivor of a battle against Rommel’s army on the Egyptian border. Wandering through the desert he finds a remote hotel assuming a false identity to elude capture. Arriving shortly after is General Rommel himself (Erich von Stroheim) who takes Bramble for a German spy and lets slip hints of his secret strategy, the ‘five graves’ to Cairo-hidden excavations of supplies to enable survival across the desert. It’s up to Bramble to find a way to get word of the plan to the Allies and perhaps change the tide of the war.

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