The Desert of the Tartars

The Desert of the Tartars (Italian: Il deserto dei Tartari) is a 1976 Italian film by director Valerio Zurlini with an international cast, including Jacques Perrin, Vittorio Gassman, Max von Sydow, Francisco Rabal, Helmut Griem, Giuliano Gemma, Philippe Noiret, Fernando Rey, and Jean-Louis Trintignant. The cast also included Iranian film veteran actor Mohammad-Ali Keshavarz.

The Desert of the Tartars
Directed byValerio Zurlini
Produced byMichelle de Broca
Bahman Farmanara
Enzo Giulioli
Written byJean-Louis Bertucelli
Screenplay byAndré G. Brunelin
Based onThe Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati
StarringVittorio Gassman
Jacques Perrin
Helmut Griem
Music byEnnio Morricone
CinematographyLuciano Tovoli
Edited byRaimondo Crociani
Distributed byFilmverlag der Autoren
Quartet Films
NoShame Films
Release date
  • 29 October 1976 (1976-10-29) (Italy)
Running time
140 minutes

It is based on the Dino Buzzati's novel The Tartar Steppe. The film omits certain parts of the novel, especially those relating to the lives of Drogo's friends in his home town.

It was filmed in Arg-e Bam, Iran, and was released on 29 October 1976 in Italy. It was shown as part of the Cannes Classics section of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.[1]

The film's visual style was influenced by the work of Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico.[2]


The film tells the story of a young officer, Giovanni Drogo (Jacques Perrin), and the time that he spent guarding the Bastiani Fortress, an old, unmaintained border fortress. It is noted for its scenery, the lighting and cinematography, and the psychological questions it raises.






  1. "Cannes Classics 2013 line-up unveiled". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  2. Rolando Caputo. Literary cineastes: the Italian novel and the cinema. In: Peter E. Bondanella & Andrea Ciccarelli (eds.). The Cambridge Companion to the Italian Novel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. P. 182-196.
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