Full frontal female and male nudity; adultery and fornication; theft and bribery; and, 17 obscenities and 3 profanities
In this excruciatingly monotonous and ponderously enigmatic film, a wealthy married couple, who fancy themselves artists, set out to explore postwar North Africa as an antidote to their boring, leisured existence.
Port and Kit Moresby are accompanied by Mr. Tunner, another member of the loafer set who tags along primarily to soothe Kit’s sexual needs, when husband Port is not around. Port, in fact, wanders off to partake of Arab tent girls.
The trio continue to traipse across the parched desert-scape of 1948 North Africa in this kind of a philosophical travelogue. Their strange dialogue is full of symbolic mishmash about dreams and being terrified of trains. At one point, as Kit and Port engage in sex before the camera, Port glances up and announces, “The sky is so strange it is almost solid, as if sheltering us from what is behind.”
Kit, meanwhile, sees omens in everything she spots. However, neither Port’s dreams nor the existential nature of the film are developed. The plot revolves more around their sexual romps and escapades. Profaning and cheapening the sex act, these pathetic characters lack values and morals. They look for meaning in their lives, but find none.
The three disenchanted pseudo-intellectuals resign themselves to endless days of travel, pushing their psyches to punishing limits in a desperately leisured attempt to avoid making real-life choices. Then, Port begins having chills in the Sahara, and it is learned that he has contracted typhoid fever. When he dies, Kit lets herself be picked up by a passing camel herder.
With virtually no dramatic tension, yet an astringent score consisting of high-pitched screeching violins and chanting/wailing voices, perhaps the only thing going for THE SHELTERING SKY is its postcard-like composition. At 137 minutes, it should prove suitable as an airline offering for long in-flight movies in which you can turn off the sound. Considering some explicit scenes with lower female and male nudity, you might want to turn off the picture as well.
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Warner Brothers, Inc.
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