The American artist couple Port and Kit Moresby travels aimless through Africa, searching for new experiences that could give new sense to their relationship. But the flight to distant regions leads both only deeper into despair.
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There's argument to be had with a number of elements in the film fromcasting to the narrative adaptation. It's almost impossible to imaginehow Bertolucci might have captured North West Africa on film betterthough. You can see its going to be a remarkable thing to simply lookas the principal couple arrive on a rusting pier: a sweeping cranedolly, a long take, the dramatic change in light. Exhilarating.The Sheltering Sky is about this visual appeal and how we giveourselves over to it. The other great theme of the movie is sex, or thetemporal incarnation of this great beauty. This is one of the mostsexually appealing films I've seen, frank and flawed but oftenmagnetic. No doubt casting the attractive Debra Winger as Kit was partand parcel of this approach - she acts very well too (although I'm agreat admirer of Judy Davis who famously regretted being passed over).As Kit's wilful husband Port, Malkovich is arresting if unsympathetic.The secondary cast are good but the great coup for Bertolucci is thelocation casting and extras who are all wonderful.A film to marvel at. I could have done without the sporadic andunnecessary voice-over but misjudgements are always likely to creepinto such a sprawl. 7/10
The Sheltering Sky is frankly a psychological masterpiece and one ofthe densest books I've ever read, but it has a fairly simple plot. Thefilm adequately reenacts the plot. but can't really convey what it isthat makes the novel so exquisite.That's not to say Bertolucci and his contributors, especiallycinematographer Vittorio Storaro, don't deserve a lot of credit fortheir work. This should probably be accepted as the industry standardfor filming the scenery of North Africa. The title alone should tellyou you're in for rich cinematography and in my opinion this isabsolutely necessary to the telling of the story, but the scenery doestend to overwhelm the story at times.Malkovich and Winger both give credible performances, but they seemedlike strangers to me compared to the characters in the novel. Likewisethe casting of the Lyles was excellent, but their role seemedabbreviated. I found Paul Bowles himself to be a captivating screenpresence, though he's only on screen briefly as the narrator.Ultimately the film is worth watching but constantly reminded me of thediscrepancy between the two media, which isn't exactly an endearingquality.
I remember seeing this movie when it first came out; I was intrigued to find it on DVD. However the DVD edition has been edited so harshly that it has totaly trashed the context of the story. I didn't recognize what I was watching; yes the great desert scapes are still there but the story and plot have been destroyed by the editor.
I found The Sheltering Sky the most unbearably slow-paced movie ever created. I slipped into a coma within the first half hour and woke up an hour later to see that the movie was still playing. In disgust, I shut it off, never to look back.
This review is from: The Sheltering Sky (Amazon Instant Video) Beauty photography in an exotic locale with excellent acting from a top notch cast. I found this film deeply moving and magical. For some people it might appear to be too slow-moving, but you just have to sit back and absorb the atmosphere and get into the heads of the actors and their dilemma.
It's hard to understand why this film doesn't get better reviews. Yes ofcourse it's a reflective arty film where evoking feelings is more importantthan narrative drive. The amount of nudity, though in keeping with thestory, does perhaps hinder its being taken seriously bysome.Surely though it succeeds as well as any film has in painting a cinematicpicture of the experience of being a stranger in a strange land? Thecultural barriers, dissonances, language, the maze of similar streets -everything comes together to create the feeling of utter helplessness Kitexperiences when she tries to get help for the ill Port. The confusingweird relationships, often only partially depicted in the film heighten thesense of being adrift in life.Together with some of the best ever desert cinematography rivaling evenLawrence of Arabia, North African music, noises, characters and colors thisfilm is a rich feast for the senses indeed. And what a wonderful finalvoice-over, one of the most deep and thought-provoking lines in all themovies.
This film is one of the worst examples of psycho-sexual propaganda I have seen. The problem isn't that film cannot express literature in a satifactory way, but rather that the director has selected limited aspects of this novel with which to present the story in film. Not having read the novel, I cannot say for sure, but I suspect it is considerably more meaningful. Taken on face value, I would have to say that this film is encouraging women to follow the path of the female protagonist and that this is the primary purpose of the film. It was intended for educated women, and specifically to coerce them into making very poor choices in their lives. The cover of the DVD really says it all. The shelter I'm seeing in the image is the Bedouin's robes around the naked woman. Even the end scene, it's like an approval from a father figure, or absolution of some kind. And the most erotically charged part of the film is Kit's initiation as a sex slave. Loaded with symbolism. Don't misunderstand me. I think people should be able to make any choices they like - without serving someone else's agenda. This film has an agenda, so is not art, but propaganda or worse.
Port and Kit Moresby are travellers who come to North Africa to spend ayearor so. With them travels a friend, George Tunner. Their journey hidesthegradual breakdown of their relationship - a fact that is only highlightedwhen Port visits an Arab prostitute and Kit sleeps with Tunner after adrunken train journey together.Before you sit down to see this film, you really need to have askedyourselfwhat sort of mood you are in. Are you looking for a fast film, somethingentertaining and slick to distract you from life, or provide backgroundnoise in the room while you iron? If you are looking for such a movie thenthere must be thousands of action movies and comedies that you can watch.If you are in a contemplative mood or are able to accept the story thatcomes at you no matter how slow or difficult to get into then you may aswell give this a stab. The film focuses on the relationship between KitandPort, a relationship that has been crumbling for many years before we arebrought into the story. The film then uses the journey as a journey ofthemboth and, ultimately, Kit to find more about themselves, each other andtheir lives.If this sounds straightforward then forgive me, for it is not. The filmdoesn't help; it is difficult to get into the story because at times itdoesn't seem to really be about anything. It is not so bad for themajorityof the film, but Kit's wander in the last 30 minutes is difficult becauseitseems to be going nowhere and not be connected to the emotions that weonlyassume she might be feeling. This is the main problem with the film - notso much the slow pace but the fact that it could be running but itwouldn'tmatter because it would still feel like it isn't actually going anywhere.It is possible to take something from this film but the actual intensionwaslost on me - when the final lines of dialogue came I hoped they would beasa torch in a dark room - but they only served to lose me that much more.Ihate arty films when they seem to revel in their sheer impenetrateability,sadly that seemed to be the case here.Malkovich and Winger are both very good; they acted wounded and hurt verywell within their veneer of respectability and normalcy. It's a shamethat,although their performances help us get into Kit & Port's relationship,theyare unable to help us understand (or care) when the film begins to become`deeper' than that. Scott is quite interesting but underused, althoughSpall and Bennett are reasonably good. The star here is the desert, anditlooks great. For all his faults as a storyteller here, Bertolucci canframea shot, producing a great sense of place as well as some really gorgeoustravelogue moments. If that's your thing (a `deep' and beautiful film)thenyou'll be OK, but I needed some emotional buy in or at least somethingapproaching a narrative that could be easily followed with a bit ofthought.Overall this is an interesting but ultimately frustrating film. It looksgreat and it all seems very worthy, but where it goes was beyond me. Ienjoyed watching it as it forced me to think instead of just vegging out(like so many other films do) but at the end of the day I was leftwonderingif this was artistic posturing on a big scale or if it really did have anemotional core that I just couldn't reach.
I always wonder what it might be like to have a film set in a locationthat is explicitly specific, with this film, as example, the Saharadesert and outlining areas of North Africa, and to not have some kindof Lawrence of Arabia kind of epic story attached to it. It's achallenge for a filmmaker to attempt, and Bernardo Bertolucci didattempt it in 1990 with the Sheltering Sky, based on the book thatseems to be massively popular (though un-read by me). Whether hesucceeded completely or not will depend on how much the viewer can takeseeing characters sort of engulfed by the director andcinematographer's own adoration of the strange and bizarrely exoticlocales. The story is boiled down, probably more-so than was in the Bowlesnovel, about a husband and wife (Malkovich and Winger), and theirfriend (Scott), who go to "travel" in North Africa. For what preciselyis uncertain, but it is clear that the focal point is that of theirmarriage failing after years together (both sides sleeping with others,distanced, not altogether honest in conversation).But this changes, of course, once Paul gets typhoid and has a fever forthe middle chunk of the film. After this, when a change of eventsoccur, The Sheltering Sky gets even more surreal and sensual thenbefore, if still slightly obtuse in how to really relay a good story.And it's not that Bertolucci is whacked out, like with La Luna, as astoryteller per-say. He actually progresses what there is involving thecharacters pretty well, and Malkovich and Winger are up to the task ofplaying people who are sort of bourgeois malcontents who get theirrespective states of mind altered through their travels of thefly-ridden villages and poor towns in the Sahara region. But it seems like material, even for someone who hasn't read the book,to be more evocative as prose then as filmed, and the many customs andmany little details of the villagers are left as more-so poeticaspirations than things relevant to the narrative. This all being said,The Sheltering Sky may possibly be Bertolucci's most astoundingly shotfeature, with it coming right behind Goodfellas as the bestcinematography of 1990 (via the great Vittorio Storaro). Shot aftershot looks like it could come out of a truly exquisite book, and thededication to compositions and long shots and how a close-up can bejust as meaningful cinematically as a view of the desert, is the bestthat Bertolucci has to offer.But then again, like with Antonioni when he's at his most scatter-shot,without characters who even subtly convey a lot, or with strong enoughthemes aside from the despair amid an alien environment (to thecharacters), it becomes the textbook case of style over substance. I'drecommend it, especially to fans of the director and DP, but I canunderstand the dismay that fans of the book had at the adaptation,despite the convincing performances and (as a given) the wonder ofseeing places not seen before, like the not-filmed-before-this-filmlocation of Niger.
"The Sheltering Sky" is a road movie and a love storyÂ Its real subjectis very simple: Is it possible for two people to share the same dreamand to exist as a couple? It's a simple story of two complicated peoplewho love each other deeply, but can't be happy in loveÂ So in the firstpart of the movie we see how the joy of life vanishes, and in thesecond part how the joy of death beginsÂ Debra Winger identifies with lead "Kit" passionate and seductivecharacterÂ She, at least, feels the need to communicateÂ At times shefeels undesirable, even unwanted and unlovedÂ But this isn't easy to dowith PortÂ Malkovich has a completely different approach to PortÂ Hesimply falls into the characterÂ In his dark eyes we can see clearlythe suffering of the memory and the pain of remembranceÂ Port's illnessis an unspeakable solitudeÂ He doesn't need anybody or anything to facethe challenge of lifeÂ He feels he's sufficient to the task but weclearly feel his strong attraction to nothingnessÂ Kit and Port knowthat they dearly love each other, but they just feel condemned,condemned to be together foreverÂ Bernardo Bertolucci planned the film in two sections: The solar partbelongs to Port and the lunar connected to KitÂ
A movie that captures the most unimaginable out come...A movie to be seen more than once..Took me to the limits..great Director and Producer of coarce..Loved "The old mans inner thoughts at the beginning and the end"
Those who haven't read the novel will be left bewildered. A marriedAmerican couple (John Malkovich and Debra Winger) travel through NorthAfrica in search of themselves and the desert, and find theirrelationship threatened by the vastness of the strange landscapes - andby a lecherous companion.Director Bernardo Bertolucci captures the forbidding beauty of theSahara quite stunningly, but while the film is utterly ravishing tolook at, its characters are stiff, self-regarding and unlikable, theirpredicament is far from compelling, and the psychological drama of PaulBowles's novel never quite surfaces.
Unlike great movies which are timeless, this movie was endless, like aportion of food you don't like but are reluctant to throw away. Thefilm would have been better with a Richard Kiley narration, under aNational Geographic logo. There were wonderful shots of the dessert,gorgeous panoramas, and interesting character studies of the people.And I found the last half hour nearly intolerable. I like movies with adifferent take on things. I liked La Strada. But I did not like thisfilm. The only saving grace is that I didn't pay to see it, and Ididn't waste good popcorn money.The film started out with good intentions. It developed well, withMalkovich's character contracting typhoid. The sequence in which Kit isat Port's side, nursing him for what must have been days, was - in myopinion - the only redeeming scene in the movie. After he dies, and Kithits the road, it seems to go downhill rapidly. The movie loses itscontinuity and its coherence. Perhaps the book was better, but afterseeing the film, I have little interest in finding out.
Well, after seeing this magnificent movie for the first on DVD, I blamemyself for not going into the theater to see it!This film is best viewed on a HUGE screen!Almost a half of this movie is wordless, but the music makes it up to bringyou in a strange mood.Regardless of some minor flaws, Bertolucci manages to transport you in worldwere love and self discovery are tight together in order to create amesmerizing experience...Is very hard to be coherent about this movie, because is hard to comment onthe simple facts of life, somewhere in Africa and not only.For me, this movie made me think a lot about what am I doing with my lifesometimes, even though the director probably didn't plan this kind of effecton the viewers:)Too many words saying nothing just take the movie and watch it in low dimlight, on a BIG screen, and with loud sound, so you can recreate a beautifulworld!
This review is from: The Sheltering Sky (DVD) This vendor needs to disclose in the original description that it is for United Kingdon, Region 2; will not work in the United States. This info is buried deep down later in the description ONLY if you click further to read additional details.
This movie is fit for those for whom cinematography is the sole draw.Thesweeping views, dramatic skies, and desert landscapes are impressive, andwell presented with wind and shadow. The story is frustrating. Thevieweris leftto figure too much out for him or herself. There is completely pointlessnuditywhich seems to be there to draw viewers. Who cares about a genital shotofJohn Malkovich or the pubic hair of Deborah Winger. The acting isoutstanding.Winger is phenomenal and probably gives her best performance. Malkovichisappropriately type-cast and fits like a glove. The story is painful. Itstartsnowhere, ends nowhere, and leaves you baffled throughout. Too manythreadsare left unexplained. Characters appear and disappear without so much ashintof development. Situations develop, then "poof" they end and you areleftto tryand forget them. This film is artistically beautiful, but, not for thosewho love agood story. I feel like I opened a book in the middle of chapter 5 andlostit whilesomewhere in chapter 12.
Winger is especially fine in her portrayal of a woman who travles from New York with her husband to the North African desert accompanied by a mutual male friend. The journey takes a few unpredictable turns. The scenery and peek into North African culture make this movie worthwhile in itself.
Director Bernardo Bertolucci is the perfect choice for bringing Paul Bowles incredible novel -- one of the most finely crafted of the 20th century and one of my favorite books -- to the screen. Debra Winger and John Malkovich are fine as Kit and Port -- spoiled, bored, EMPTY Americans 'travelling' (NOT tourists) in Morocco just after WWII. Their journey -- one of self-discovery and an attempt to bring some life back into their marriage -- turns from one of idle fascination with an exotic culture (one in which Bowles, the author, immersed himself long ago, one which he loved unabashedly) turns into a trip to hell. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.Campbell Scott is also good in the role of their friend Tunner, and the Lyles -- the fawning Eric and his intolerably superior mother -- are every bit as disgusting as they seem. Some viewers have found these latter two portrayals to be a bit 'over the top' -- but they're completely irritating characters, whining and complaining constantly about the conditions in which they chose to place themselves. They are the biting fleas you cannot remove from your sleeping bag, no matter how long you search for them.Filmed on location in the African desert, the film resounds and shines with Bertolucci's touch -- if it seems long and slow in places, those characteristic accurately portray the atmosphere of life in desert Morocco. The unbelievable heat would tend to slow things down a bit. The director's use of camera angles, light, and those long, slow, sweeping shots are masterful and perfect. Bowles was consulted every step of the way -- a sign of the respect held for the author and his work by the director -- and he even appears in the film and supplies narration.I am amazed that a film of this scope, made by a director of Bertolucci's stature, with two of the most critically acclaimed actors of our time, has not appeared on DVD. There's a wonderful documentary called DESERT ROSES: THE MAKING OF 'THE SHELTERING SKY' that would make a nice piece of bonus material for a DVD release. When the film was shown on BRAVO, that network had the good taste to run the documentary along with it. There's also a fine documentary on Bowles available from Mystic Fire Video, PAUL BOWLES IN MOROCCO, that gives an informative portrait of this literary giant.
I like the alternative title of the movie, "Il TÃ¨ nel deserto", for themovie tells something about the desert and its people. And it does itwonderfully through images that may remind those seen in "The EnglishPatient". The story however is special and I would say makes the movie nottoo commercial. The two artists: Port (John Malkovich) and Kit Moresby(Debra Winger), feel free and at ease in this world, under the sky thatprotects them from the unknown space beyond. They leave behind the lifetheyknew and they try to leave behind their friend, Tanner, which may representthe values of that life style.They travel almost without a plan, if the plan is not to meet the unknown.There is beauty, harmony and danger in the desert, which is worth seeing.And like a parable for life - even if it seems empty as the desert it isworth living, for there is always the ultimate attraction of theunknown.Highly aesthetical, this movie is like a complex artisticperformance.
This review is from: The Sheltering Sky (Amazon Instant Video) An emotional story with top acting, good screen writing, directing and editing plus a beautiful virtual trip through Morocco. Definitely worth watching