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The Sheltering Sky (Widescreen)

Debra Winger , John Malkovich , Bernardo Bertolucci    R (Restricted)   DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Master filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci applies his considerable talent to this haunting adaptation of the Paul Bowles novel. John Malkovich and Debra Winger play Port and Kit Moresby, characters loosely based on Bowles and his wife Jane, who flee New York for North Africa, where they hope to find mystical truths that will reignite the spark of their marriage. But instead they lose their moral bearings (with help from a friend, played by Campbell Scott, who has an affair with Kit) while traveling deeper and deeper into the Sahara. Before long, what started as a vacation at exotic lodgings has descended into a tour of hell, as they stumble farther and farther into an unknowable spiritual territory. Though long and at times slow-moving, the film features marvelously nuanced acting by Malkovich and Winger and visionary filmmaking that makes the landscape at once picturesque and threatening. --Marshall Fine

Product Description

American artist couple Port (John Malkovich) and Kit (Debra Winger) Moresby are drawn by desire and destiny to travel through Saharan Africa, attempting to recapture the love the once shared.

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read the Book Instead March 27 2003
Format:VHS Tape
I recently read Paul Bowles "The Sheltering Sky" and found it to be a haunting, captivating, and philosophical masterpiece. It is a book that will stay with me forever. I was excited to see that it had been made into a movie. However, I found the movie disappointing. I think the book does not lend itself well to being translated to film since much of the "story" is the underlying thoughts, feelings and changes within the characters. The film starts with a "narrator" observer (Mr Bowles himself!) but after that scene the narration does not continue. Then there is the last part of the book where Kit joins the nomad caravan. In the book I found this to be "believeable" but on screen it was silly especially without knowing what was really motivating her since the dialog of her thoughts was left in the book. I couldn't help wondering what someone who had not read the book would think was going on and WHY. I also found the dialog a little "stilted" - more like dialog in a play than a movie. The scenery and desert shots were beautiful. Ah well. This just proves once again that the "movie" in your own mind is the best there is! Read the book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good dramatisation of a terrible book April 9 2004
Format:DVD
It seems churlish not to rate more highly a film which achieves pretty much all it set out to achieve, but I think you have to judge a film by its overall impression, and while this is beautiful and probably elegiac, it is still an intensely annoying film about a couple of very dislikeable people. That isn't Bernado Bertolucci's fault, of course: Paul Bowles' novel of the same name is an intensely annoying, pretentious book. Bertolucci has, if anything, improved on the raw material in the parts he has left out, but fundamentally he can still be brought to book for filming it the first place.
I have only recently finished reading The Sheltering Sky. I hated it. When I read the glowing, passionate reviews of pretty much every reviewer on Amazon, I thought I must have missed something, or completely misunderstood the book. Just to check, I got hold of the movie. To my tremendous relief, I now see I didn't (or, if I did, then so did Bertolucci): the film is pretty much exactly how I imagined it would be.
Malkovich nails the Port Moresby character (how odd, incidentally, to name your lead character after a place in Papua New Guinea). Port is what the Brits would describe in their inimitable way as a "complete wanker".
Debra Winger captures Kit Moresby's high-tensile stupidity perfectly. In her opening scene, she wigs out after roughly fifteen seconds of an innocuous conversation because she doesn't want Port to talk about a dream he has had, lest Tunner should repeat it back in New York. But then within twenty minutes, she's having sexual intercourse with Tunner behind Port's back, apparently without a second thought to the stir this might create back home should Tunner happen to mention it.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Nice shots but.... Nov. 14 2003
By R Jess
Format:VHS Tape
Well the cinematography is great. After only about 10 minutes though, you can see that this has been adapted from a novel and a literary one at that. Literary novels are notoriously difficult to adapt to the screen precisely because they draw attention to themselves as 'literature', their expression is intimately linked to the art-form in which they were created.
The main characters seem to be on a mission to recapture some of the adventure that existed in pre-war America by entering the 'otherness' of North Africa. The realities of life there come to sour their rather naive utopian vision. I would resist from dissing a movie just because it doesn't have an identifiable plot (most of our real lives don't have one anyway), but most of these characters are very difficult to emphatise with. Debra Winger's transformation at the end of the film where she subsumes herself in Port's idealism, carrying on his adventurous nature as a way of coping with his loss is an interesting character development. But I'm sure this transformation is much better explained in the novel. On screen, without previous knowledge of the story, it comes across as inexplicible.
No movie company would dream of financing a film script as rambling as this one if it was made by a first time director. This seems to be a vanity picture indulged in by Warners after the success of Bertolucci's 'The Last Emperor'.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic, visually superb film Oct. 26 2003
Format:DVD
The Sheltering Sky is based on Paul Bowles novel, relating how an American couple attempted to rekindle their marriage by journeying into the heart of the Sahara desert. As if afraid of confronting the tensions between them, Port (John Malkovich) agrees to take along with them the wealthy playboy Tunner, at least for the first part of their journey. And so creating a "menage-a-trois" situation, with Port later realising his true feelings for his wife Kit (Debra Winger)But fate deals them a savage hand, as the harsh, unforgiving terrain of the Sahara makes it's own impact on their destiny.
The film owes much to the superb music score, a haunting passionate love theme, played in an austere way, like two people in love, yet both afraid to commit, hinting not only at their concealed passion, but also inner loneliness. With many attractive Arabic themes also.
If you prefer action films, don't think about buying this one. Some may find it long, introspective, and at times, ambiguous, with the narrative often giving way to somethig akin to a national geographic documentary. The remaining leading character spoke only a handful of words for the last three quarters of an hour..But a beautiful, lush, masterful journey which lovers of Africa will not want to miss.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars NOT IN ENGLISH!!
Of course the dvd region wasn't provided by the seller and being a hard movie to get (especially cheap) I took a chance. LAME, NOT IN ENGLISH!!!
Published 1 month ago by DANA
4.0 out of 5 stars The sheltering Sky
beautiful photography the perspective of the desert and the aspect of the society and the people at this time is completely representative.
Published on March 28 2012 by AlBen
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
I always am on the look out for great movies and was delighted to be able to get this one. It arrived in good time and in great shape.
Published on Feb. 4 2012 by Jan Church
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloody good film!
I enjoyed this film and so glad to see it available on DVD. The storyline was very believable to a point it could have been based on a true incident. Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2010 by JMM
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor novel poorly adapted
I'm not certain what it is that characterizes a book as 'Literary'. Perhaps Literariness requires that the work cohere with a previously established order of literature, something... Read more
Published on April 22 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars No cookie cutter drama here...
I viewed the movie first, was so intriqued with it that I had to read the book. This movie, I believe was designed to most affect you after you have viewed it. Read more
Published on April 5 2004 by Bryant MacPherson
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice shots but...
Well the cinematography is great. After only about 10 minutes though, you can see that this has been adapted from a novel and a literary one at that. Read more
Published on April 1 2004 by R Jess
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding film
The book was successfully transformed to a movie. With an outstanding cinematography, director Bertolucci was able to put on screen man's search for meaning in a strange land. Read more
Published on Jan. 21 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars What A Beautiful Film
This has got to be one of the most visually beautiful films I've seen in quite some time. Although you must tolerate the idiosyncracies of some artists and affluents, it's worth it... Read more
Published on March 24 2003
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