It is a little hard for me to believe that I got a chance to see two, that's right two Sean Connery films from the same great year, 1975, on the same day of the TCMFF. I also was very confident when I heard this was programmed that Michael would be joining me. He commented on a post I did on this movie a few years ago. We are both fans of this film. The crowd was a little sparse for the line up, although the theater did fill in quite a bit, so we decided to move our location down closer to the front of the theater for this presentation. We had to move over in the aisle we selected because some of the seats were reserved, but we were dead square center for the program.
Stuntman and coordinator Terry Leonard shared a lot of stories about the making of the film. There was a nice Video Tribute to Mr. Leonard right before he was introduced. I could not locate that, but I did find this featurette on the TCM site that I thought I would share here.
The jump off the balcony that looks so spectacular in the opening kidnapping scene turned out to be far more hazardous for the rider, Mr. Leonard, than for the horse. It turned out that he did have a fracture in his back as a result but it was not discovered until nearly a year later.
The subject of his work on "Raiders of the Lost Ark" also came up in the conversation. Terry Leonard did the truck chase gag where Indy goes under the truck he is chasing and then gets dragged by his whip as he tries to get back into the truck. It is an amazing sequence and one of the best known stunts from the days in which practical effects and in-camera effects were still part of the film making business.
I have a hard time understanding how this film was not nominated for the Academy Award for screenplay. Maybe the story was crowed out by other pictures that year, but if you hear the words being said by the characters you will know that the script is sometimes poetic in the way it portrays the conflicts of the characters. It was nominated by the Writer's Guild for the year award that year. Look at this example:
"Raisuli: Woman, I want you to understand this: I am not a barbarous man. I am a scholar, and a leader to my people. I am not a barbarous man. These four men have dishonored me. They have eaten from my trees, they have drunk water from my wells; they have done all of these things to me, and they have not even evoked my name to God in thankfulness. I am treated this way because I make war upon the Europeans... You see the man at the well, how he draws the water? When one bucket empties, the other fills. It is so with the world: at present, you are full of power, but you're spilling it wastefully, and Islam is lapping up the drops as they spill from your bucket."
The final letter from the Raisuli to President Roosevelt is also a moment of movie poetry and it contains the line that provides the title for the film. I will share it with you at the bottom of this post.
It was fortuitous that Michael and I moved down from our previous seats in the theater, for as the interview with Terry Leonard ended, the host pointed out that we were being joined for this screening by the writer/director himself, John Milius. We turned to look at where he might be seated and waving to the crowd, but we did not have to look far, he was right behind us in the next row. This may have been the coolest moment of the whole weekend for me. The applause and ovation for him was thunderous and at the conclusion of the movie it was repeated. I wanted very much to turn around and speak with him and share my love of the movie, but I thought better of it. I'd seen the documentary about him last year and I believe he has some medical issues. He struggled a bit to stand when he was acknowledged, and since he did not speak as part of the festival, I thought he might not be able to deal with a crowd so I just held back and slapped my hands together a bit harder so that the world would know my appreciation.
Coincidentally, I wrote a post focusing on the performance of Brian Keith as President Roosevelt for a blogathon back in February.This is my entry into the 31 days of Oscar Blogathon hosted by Paula's Cinema Club, Outspoken and Freckled and Once Upon a Screen. It also means that this is the second time I've watched this movie in the last two months, something that made me very happy. Just while I'm thinking about it, "The Wind and the Lion also has my favorite score by my favorite movie composer Jerry Goldsmith. You will find a note of appreciation for Mr. Goldsmith's career at this link.
To Theodore Roosevelt - you are like the Wind and I like the Lion. You form the Tempest. The sand stings my eyes and the Ground is parched. I roar in defiance but you do not hear. But between us there is a difference. I, like the lion, must remain in my place. While you like the wind will never know yours. - Mulay Hamid El Raisuli, Lord of the Riff, Sultan to the Berbers, Last of the Barbary Pirates.