Anchor Bay Entertainment and Trancas International Films have announced the Classic Collector's Edition Blu-ray releases of director Moustapha Akkad's The Message (1976), starring Anthony Quinn and Irene Papas, and Lion of the Desert (1980), starring Quinn and Oliver Reed. Each historical epic makes its U.S. high definition debut on November 12th.
Official Synopsis: Courage. Destiny. History. To some, these are but mere words. For a rare few, they are just beginning of a heroic journey towards fulfilling a greater purpose. Featuring some of Hollywood's greatest stars, including Anthony Quinn, Rod Steiger, Oliver Reed, John Gielgud and Irene Papas, The Message and Lion of the Desert were written by H.A.L. Craig.
Beginning in 7th century Mecca, The Message tells the conflict between its powerful leaders and Muhammad, who attacks the greed and cruelty rife in this profligate community. After a revelation from God, Muhammad takes up arms against Mecca. Muhammad came to be known as the prophet, the servant, and the bearer of good tidings, and unified Arabia under one religion, one God, preaching the Message. ("The makers of this film honor the Islamic tradition, which holds that the impersonation of the Prophet offends against the spirituality of his message. Therefore, the person of Mohammad is not shown.")
Lion of the Desert begins in 1929: Benito Mussolini (Steiger) has been at war with Bedouin patriots for decades, the point of contention being the Italian colonization of Libya. Mussolini has appointed General Rodolfo Graziani (Reed) as governor to Libya, confident that he can crush the rebellion. However, Omar Mukhtar (Quinn) – a teacher and humanist, yet skilled in desert warfare – has assumed leadership of the resistance. Led by Mukhtar, the Bedouin troops fight on horseback, using guerrilla tactics against the formidable forces of the Italian Army.
Both films are presented in 1080p with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround. Special features have yet to be detailed.
I remember being in the theater with my brother to see THE SENTINEL when we first saw the trailer for what is now call, THE MESSAGE. Originally it was entitled, MUHAMMAD: MESSENGER OF GOD. We were excited only because it looked so grand and epic - also because my brother was history major. (He was offered to teach and Hunter University and later offered a position with the Federal Government to work in foreign American embassies) We never did get to see since it was taken out of the theaters due to bomb threats in other parts of the world and especially when a NY theater was taken hostage by savage Muslims (big surprise!) because the film contained "the prophet's" name and were against his story being told in the film - yet the producer/director was Muslim. Anyway. That was 1977 and not much has changed - and I bet most thought the attack on the Twin Towers was the first terrorist attack on America, let alone NY. NOT. These people have always been wacky my brother always stated.