The Ark of the Desert | Chicago Reader

The Ark of the Desert

Amin and Myriam live in the same desert city but belong to feuding ethnic communities, their clandestine embraces enveloped by an air of romantic doom. Mohamed Chouikh (The Citadel) directed this 1997 Algerian Romeo and Juliet, artfully manipulating light and shadow amid the desert landscape and adobe dwellings to heighten the sense of menace and desperation. His ethnographic depiction of the region's trancelike rituals and violent skirmishes—complete with colorful costumes and quasi-authentic music—calls to mind Pasolini's Medea, and the hypnotic sense of destiny approaching is broken only toward the end, with a surreal and apocalyptic massacre that spares the lovers and the very young.

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