Passion In The Desert

  • 1998
  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Drama, Historical, Romance

Think of it as THE ENGLISH PATIENT for the Cat Fancy set. This picturesque desert romance, based on a novella by Honore de Balzac, must rank as one of the strangest celluloid love stories of all time. Augustin (Ben Daniels) is a Napoleonic officer who's sent to Eygpt to accompany a French scholar (Michel Piccoli) on an exploratory tour of the ancient ruins....read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Think of it as THE ENGLISH PATIENT for the Cat Fancy set. This picturesque desert romance, based on a novella by Honore de Balzac, must rank as one of the strangest celluloid love stories of all time. Augustin (Ben Daniels) is a Napoleonic officer who's

sent to Eygpt to accompany a French scholar (Michel Piccoli) on an exploratory tour of the ancient ruins. After a sudden attack by a band of Mamaluke warriors, Augustin and his charge are separated from the rest of the regiment and, after a heavy sandstorm, find themselves hopelessly lost under

the broiling Sahara sun. Augustin strikes out on his own to find help, but gets no further than the cool, cavernous ruins of an ancient settlement and its sparkling pool of water. There is, however, one small problem: It's jealously guarded by a sleek and deadly female leopard whom Augustin must

first befriend in order to survive. Maybe it's the heat, or maybe Augustin is just lonely, but their interspecies friendship gradually turns into something a lot more serious as Augustin and the leopard (whom he's named Simoom) grow close -- very, very close. Titter all you want, but just try and

take your eyes off it. First-time director Lavinia Currier has dressed Balzac's bizarre story in a sumptuous cloak of sun-drenched colors, stunning desert landscapes and almost hallucinatory imagery, and does it all with a perfectly straight face. There's a parable in here somewhere, something

having to do with Enlightenment rationality pitted against nature's raw savagery, and it no doubt meant more to Balzac's readers than it will to today's audience. But it really doesn't matter: The film is great, dopey fun. Not since King Kong wooed Fay Wray...

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  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Think of it as THE ENGLISH PATIENT for the Cat Fancy set. This picturesque desert romance, based on a novella by Honore de Balzac, must rank as one of the strangest celluloid love stories of all time. Augustin (Ben Daniels) is a Napoleonic officer who's s… (more)

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