The Sheltering Sky

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Aug 20, 2012 08:25
I watched Bernardo Bertolucci's film entitled "The Sheltering Sky" (1990) with English subtitles.

I really love his "The Last Emperor" (1987); I recorded the film into a video tape when it was broadcast on TV and watched it again and again when I was probably a junior high school student. He described the life of the last emperor of the Qing dynasty with stunningly beautiful camerawork.

I also watched his "Little Buddha" (1993) in a cinema. Still, the screen was beautiful, but even for a fake Buddhist like me, the plot seemed a very Western view of Buddhism culture. It was like, "Ah, Western people would view it in that way, I know." So, in my verdict, "Little Buddha" was not as convincing as "The Last Emperor".

"The Sheltering Sky" was filmed between "The Last Emperor" and "Little Buddha." It was based on a novel with the same title written by Paul Bowles in 1949. Then, how was it?

In short, it was great. It's a story about an American couple who decided to spent a year or two in North Africa. I wouldn't tell about the detailed plot, but it is beautiful and sad. It is a story of frustrating love and despair.

As they travel deeper into Sahara, they experience emotionally and physically difficult situations. Their travel didn't go as they hoped.

The Italian director drew their encounter to an exotic African culture in a magical way. As they go on, the effect of the Europe-American culture, including furniture, buildings, and languages, diminishes. In contrast, the wild scenery of Sahara is spread over the screen.

The real encounter to a very different culture contains some sort of unsettling fear, which may severely affects your own identity. It can be painful as shown in the film. In a way, "Lost in Translation" by Sophia Coppola (2003) has a similar taste.

I'd like to hear a verdict from people in North Africa. Do they feel a bit of awkwardness as I felt in "Little Buddha"? Or is this film convincing for them as well?

By the way, could someone explain me what the title "The Sheltering Sky" means?