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Wanderers of the Desert

(1984)

also known as: Les baliseurs du désert

directed by Nacer Khemir, 92 minutes

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A traveling writer and teller of fables, Nacer Khemir here applies his age-old skills to a narrative feature film, the first in his highly-regarded "Desert Trilogy" that includes THE DOVE'S LOST NECKLACE and BAB'AZIZ. Khemir creates an exotic world with WANDERERS OF THE DESERT when a young teacher arrives to take over a village school isolated in the shimmering desert. Reminiscent of the best Iranian films of the 1970s in its use of color and setting, it also has something of the wit, cruelty and ambiguity of the Arabian Nights. Legendary figures materialize out of wells and the desert itself, groups of children hurry through a labyrinth of underground corridors, the teacher is whisked away to a mysterious rendezvous and never returns. Nothing is really explained; Khemir merely shows how legend, tradition and fate hang heavily over this community and he does so with a richly expressive visual style aided by superb use of color. Especially notable is the way the protagonists are always placed against sun-scorched landscapes in which nothing is quite what it seems, like the marvelous moment when everyone gathers around a ship that has mysteriously washed up in the desert sand.

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4 users found this helpful Created 10 months ago.

What keeps me going back to international cinema is getting to see a place and time where I would never get to otherwise go. Mid-1980s Tunisia is one of those places in time. The shots of the desert are bleak and beautiful. The fairy tale feel of the movie made it OK to me that several things were left unexplained, but I did feel that there were some gaps that I might have been able to fill had I known more about Arab and/or Tunisian culture.

I look forward to watching the rest of Khemir's "Desert Trilogy."

Created almost 2 years ago.

A wonderful tale of people forgotten by time. A microcosm world of the North African society that is consumed by superstition and in total submission to fate.