23 April 2003 | rupie
Brian Keith makes the movie
It is inevitable that this film will be compared with the other blockbuster about conflict between Western civilization and the culture of the middle East, i.e. Lawrence of Arabia, though no film maker in his right mind would knowingly put himself up against David Lean. In any case, The Wind and the Lion comes up short, though what film wouldn't? I feel its chief shortcoming is its lack of specificity in dealing with the political motivations of the Raisuli's actions, which cry out for more detailed explanation here. The movie spends far too much on the relationship between him and Mrs. Pericardis, a subject certainly more conducive to drawing in the crowds. Until I find some actual historical research to confirm it, I must remain skeptical of the growing affection of Mrs. Pericardis toward her captor portrayed here. Stockholm syndrome or no, I simply find it difficult to believe an American woman at the turn of the century would develop a quasi-Romantic attraction toward the man who kidnapped her and her two children.
We have also the cynical view of U.S. foreign policy and the projection of American strength portrayed here, which is perhaps not unexpected what with the memory of the U.S.'s recently ended Vietnam experience fresh in the national memory at the time of the picture's making. Doubtless the scenes of American troops marching in mideast capitals might elicit a different reaction in post-9/11 America than when this movie was first shown.
But the centerpiece of the movie, and the feature that makes the whole thing worthwhile is Brian Keith's altogether stunning and captivating performance as Teddy Roosevelt, one of the cinema's great performances, in my view. He absolutely monopolizes the screen in his scenes, which make the whole movie worth watching. The top-notch production values and gorgeous cinematography don't hurt, either.
In short, a mixed bag but worth watching just for the scenery and Keith as Teddy.