Film: The Wind and the Lion

A 1975 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Action Adventure film directed by John Milius, The Wind and the Lion tells a fictionalized version of the 1904 "Pedicaris incident."

When an American woman, Eden Pedicaris (Candice Bergen), and her two children are kidnapped in Morocco by a Berber chieftain, Mulai Ahmed el Raisuli (Sean Connery), President Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Keith) sends warships and Marines, leading to an international confrontation. The film focuses on the personal conflict between Roosevelt and Raisuli, and on the romance between Raisuli and Mrs. Pedicaris.

The Wind and the Lion is a good old-fashioned high adventure. While it does not allow the beauty of the thing to be spoiled with obsessive accuracy, it features loving attention to period details, impressive set-piece action sequences, memorable acting and dialogue, and a sweeping musical score by Jerry Goldsmith.

John Milius later also directed and wrote The Rough Riders, a spiritual prequel.
This Film features examples of:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Many.
    • "I am bluffing too."
    • Mrs. Pedicaris playing chess with Raisuli.
  • Action Mom: Mrs. Pedicaris is always one, although she doesn't actively wield a weapon until half-way through the movie.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The Bashaw
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Amusingly and pointedly averted with the Japanese ambassador during Roosevelt's birthday dinner. The Secretary of State had been condescending to the ambassador since the dinner began (asking such insipid questions as "Likee forkee", in regard to the silverware they were using). And then the ambassador stands to give Roosevely a rather eloquent congratulatory speech in perfect, unaccented English, after which he sits down, smiles at the Secretary of State, and asks the man, "You likee speechee?"
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Raisuli is clearly the toughest fighter in his whole outfit. Roosevelt is also shown practicing boxing, archery and marksmanship, one of the many ways that the two men are Not So Different.
  • Badass: several characters
  • Badass Boast
  • Big Damn Heroes: Raisuli rescuing the Pedicaris family from the desert bandits
  • Blood Knight
    • In the fight with the bandits, and the final duel with von Roerkel, Raisuli is clearly enjoying himself.
    • Captain Jerome.
    • Theodore Roosevelt would love to get out of DC, go to Morocco, and be one himself.
  • California Doubling: Though the story is set in Morocco and the US, nearly everything was shot on location in Spain.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Lots of it
  • Catch Phrase
    • "Pedicaris alive—or Raisuli dead!" (an example of Truth in Television)
    • "You are a great deal of trouble."
    • "No respect for human life!"
  • The Cavalry
  • Cool Sword: The Raisuli's golden-handled saber, which gets its own loving introductory shot.
  • Creator Cameo: John Milius plays a one-armed arms merchant who sells the Sultan a machine gun. Sir Joshua Kenyon-Smith is the film's cinematographer, Billy Williams.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Mrs. Pedicaris and her son William.
  • Deadpan Snarker: at various times, Theodore Roosevelt, his Secretary of State John Hay, and Mrs. Pedicaris, but Raisuli has the best snark of all:
    Eden Pedicaris: Why would anyone want to cut out a man's tongue?
    Raisuli: Perhaps the previous owner had nothing pleasant to say.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Raisuli rides off alone, leaving Mrs. Pedicaris behind.
  • Dramatic Irony: Several statesmen acknowledge that if their military action fails, the whole world will be swept into a war. They marvel at such a concept about ten years before it actually happens for the first time.
  • Eagleland: President Roosevelt's musings on the character of the American grizzly bear. "The American Grizzly Bear is the symbol of the American character: strength, intelligence, ferocity... a little blind and reckless at times..." Also plays out with the reckless adventurism of the Marine captain.
  • Evil Uncle: Played with. Both Raisuli and the vizier are the Sultan's uncles.
  • Fake Nationality: Scottish Sean Connery as a Berber.
  • Final Battle: The three-sided confrontation between the Bashaw's retainers and the Germans holding Raisuli, the Berber cavalry attacking the town from the outside, and Mrs. Pedicaris and the Marines in the middle
  • Foreshadowing: There are numerous foreshadowings of World War One.
    • At one point, Raisuli scoffs at Industrial Age warfare: "The Europeans have guns which fire many times promiscuously and rend the earth, but there is no honor in this; nothing is decided by this."
    • Captain Jerome: "Gentlemen, if we fail and are killed, I certainly hope the world DOES go to war!"
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Mrs. Perdicaris gets over Sir Joshua (killed fighting the Raisuli's men in the opening scene) pretty easily.
  • Funny Background Event: While Roosevelt is ruminating on the grizzly bear, a horse is rolling in the background. The director's commentary remarks that that was a coincidence, and that most people would have reshot the take.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: Theodore Roosevelt; Also, Sir Joshua Kenyon-Smith, the Briton who runs out of bullets ("Oh, damn.") in the opening fight sequence
  • Going Native: The kids have no problems with the idea, although their mother certainly does.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The beheading sequence
  • Gunpoint Banter: Mrs. Pedicaris and Captain Jerome
  • Historical Beauty Update: This is what the Raisuli actually looked like.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Most historical accounts show Raisuli as a vicious mixture of feudal bandit and political power player. For instance: Walter Harris recounts that when Raisuli's brother-in-law planned to take a second wife, Raisuli stormed the wedding party and hacked the bride and her mother to death. Thus, depicting him as a virtuous freedom fighter is a bit of a stretch. However, he was reportedly very polite to his ransomable captives.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Used a few times. Most obvious is the night escape, in which blue skies with fluffy white clouds are clearly visible in some shots.
  • Hollywood History: "Why spoil the beauty of the thing with accuracy?" The real-life Pedicaris was a man, Raisuli was simply granted his demands and there were no Germans in Morocco.
  • Hypocritical Humor: "This Roosevelt—does he have no respect for human life?!"
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Raisuli picking off the desert bandits from several hundred yards away using only the iron sights on his Mauser rifle
  • Inappropriate Hunger: The Sultan continues to snack while his personal guard is slaughtered. He knows that they have no chance of winning and that the attackers won't harm him, so he's just letting it all play out without any apparent interest in the loss of life.
  • Indy Ploy: The attempt to free the Raisuli
  • Ineffectual Death Threats: Raisuli has no intention of harming the Pedicarises
  • Insult Backfire: when the Bashaw declares to Captain Jerome (after the Marines have stormed his palace and killed off his household guard) that "you are a dangerous man, and your President Roosevelt is mad", Jerome smiles, salutes with his sword and hamtastically replies, "Yes, sir!"
  • Irony: The Sultan whines, "It's hard to be Sultan" as the camera lingers on the slaves pulling his massive golden carriage.
  • Large Ham: Theodore Roosevelt; Also the Raisuli (that's "Mulai Ahmed Mohammed el Raisuli the Magnificent" to you, bub!)
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Raisuli and von Roerkel
  • Lonely at the Top: How Roosevelt feels sometimes, ruminating about the American spirit and the loneliness of "great men".
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Roosevelt hiding the fact that he'd gone blind in one eye as a result of boxing injuries.
  • Mama Bear: Mrs. Pedicaris
  • Master Swordsman: The Raisuli favors swordplay to all other fighting. He carries a massive, golden saber and defeats all comers.
  • Mexican Standoff
  • Mood Whiplash: The opening scenes where the Berbers rampage through the Pedicaris home, slaughtering their servants and friends, is punctuated by brief moments of slapstick comedy. When Mrs. Pedicaris bonks a Berber in the head with a bottle, he has a Looney Tunes-like reaction. Later, a Berber bonks a nurse in the head, causing her to stiffen up and wander away cartoonishly.
  • Music of Note: By Jerry Goldsmith.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Raisuli and Pedicaris have a chaste relationship that never quite becomes overtly romantic.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: How Raisuli treats the Pedicarises and his other captives... well, some of them, anyway.
    John Hay: He kidnapped a British consul once, but they became friends and he sent him back - he spat on the blood money.
    Theodore Roosevelt: Spat on it?
    John Hay: Yes. There've been others, though — Spanish and French emissaries.
    Theodore Roosevelt: Did he send them back too?
    John Hay: Parts of them.
  • No One Gets Left Behind
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Connery makes a very light stab at an vaguely Middle Eastern accent, but his native Scottish overwhelms it.
  • Not So Different: Numerous parallels are drawn between the Raisuli and Roosevelt.
  • The Noun and the Noun
  • Overly Long Name: Mulai Ahmed Mohammed el Raisuli
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Raisuli, and by extension all the Berbers.
  • Rated M for Manly
  • Reclining Reigner: The Bashaw when the Marines bust into the palace.
  • The Reveal: Toward the end, the Raisuli lets slip that he already has several wives. Mrs. Pedicaris is stunned to awkward silence.
  • Royal Brat: The Sultan of Morocco
  • Shown Their Work: While the plot is largely an invention, the setting bears quite a lot of historical detail.
    • Brian Keith's portrayal is very faithful to Theodore Roosevelt's personality.
    • Hard-core military history buffs will also be impressed by the gorgeous Matte Shot of the armored cruiser USS Brooklyn and the Marines' Krag-Jorgensen rifles and Colt "potato digger" machine guns.
    • Captain Jerome carrying of the sword at the double (at port, flat to his body, left hand guiding the blade). Usually known only to Marine officers and noncommissioned officers, the latter only after they've been through NCO School.
    • Judging from Rosita Forbes' biography of Raisuli, his penchant for archaic aphorisms is very accurate.
    • Milius's depiction of Abdelaziz's court, including bicycle polo and the servant-drawn royal carriage, closely resemble passages from Walter Harris's book Morocco That Was (1921). Harris was an English diplomat who was himself kidnapped by Raisuli in 1903. Mr. Harris gets a Shout-Out in the film; see the dialogue above at No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Mrs Pedicaris may seem like a Victorian Proper Lady...but she's also a Lady of War with two children to protect.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Raisuli and Mrs. Pedicaris, complete with pawn-point banter
  • Stiff Upper Lip: When Berber warriors attack Mrs. Pedicaris's home, her British guest calmly draws a revolver and kills six Berbers. When he clicks an empty chamber, he simply says, "Damn," and is killed by the next one.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: The Raisuli kidnaps the Pedicaris family, slaughtering their servants and friends in the process, and yet the whole family decides to risk their life rescuing him by the end. Mind you the kids think being kidnapped by desert raiders is the best thing ever from the beginning.
  • Title Drop: in Raisuli's letter to Roosevelt
  • Train-Station Goodbye: ...albeit without a train: "I'll see you again, Missus Pedicaris . . . when we are both like golden clouds on the wind."
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: between Raisuli and Mrs. Pedicaris
  • Verbal Tic: Raisuli sprinkles his speech with old sayings and metaphorical turns of phrase; for instance, "The lion takes long strides, but the path is worn smooth by pygmy armies." Over the course of the story, Mrs. Pedicaris gradually matches Raisuli metaphor for metaphor, to the point where an exasperated Raisuli complains, "Missus Pedicaris, you speak like a Berber!"
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story
  • War Is Glorious: Raisuli and Roosevelt both agree on this point. The battle sequences are filmed for excitement. In the final battle, an American soldier whoops with enthusiasm while killing Germans.
  • Warrior Poet: Raisuli's Establishing Character Moment is him quietly reading by a fountain...while his men pillage the house behind him.
  • Worthy Opponent: One of the major themes of the film. "If you pick the road to greatness, and you'll have that choice someday, you'll come to realize that the road traveled by great men is dark and lonely, and lit only occasionally at intervals by other great men, and sometimes... they're your enemies... they're still the only true luxury you have."
    • Roosevelt and Raisuli come to think of each other this way.
    • Also, Roosevelt considers the grizzly bear to be one, which is why he insists to the taxidermist that it be displayed "in a fighting stance" and not made to "look like a hairy cow".
    • The German officer puts his pistol away to fight Raisuli on his own terms. Raisuli ultimately spares him for the courtesy.