The Wind and the Lion (1975)

 

 

 

 

Director:    John Milius.

Starring:     Sean Connery (Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli), Candice Bergen (Eden Pedecaris), Brian Keith (Theodore Roosevelt), John Huston (John Hay), Geoffrey Lewis (Samuel Gummere), Steve Kanaly (Captain Jerome), Vladek Sheybal (the Bashaw). 

Supposedly based at least in part on a true story, a Moroccan sheik (Sean Connery) kidnaps an America woman (Candice Bergen) and her son.  The resulting furor brings President Roosevelt (Brian Keith) into the matter.

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

Tangier, northern Morocco.  October 15, 1904.  A group of Berbers ride into town forcing people to dive for cover.  At an estate up the hill, the young William Pedecaris thinks he heard a shot.  He stands there wondering, which gets his sister to worrying.  A servant brings a glass of wine to the table on a tray where Eden Pedecaris and a visiting friend are sitting, but as he places the tray on the table, he falls over with a knife in his back.  Just then the Berbers on horseback descend on the fancy estate.  Joseph takes out a pistol and starts killing the horsemen.  He does a good job at shooting, but runs out of bullets and is slashed in the back with a sword. 

Horsemen go into the estate house after William and start breaking and shooting various items.   William and his sister and Eden are rounded up.  The Berber leader Raisuli, meanwhile, sits by a fountain.  He gets on a horse, but the horse is a bit wild and Raisuli gets thrown.  Eden laughs at him which Raisuli does not like.  He gets on another horse, rides over to Eden, slaps her and says:  "I am Raisuli.  Do not laugh at me again."

John Hay, Secretary of State of the United States, writes to President Theodore Roosevelt.  He says he has received a communication from Samuel Gummere, U.S. General Council, Tangier, Morocco that on October 15, Mrs. Eden Pedecaris and her children were kidnapped from their residence in Tangier.  Her servants and a house guest were brutally murdered.  This crime was the work of Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli, sherif of the Riffian Berbers and the last of the Barbary pirates.  Hay then requests warships be sent. 

John Hay speaks with some other Republicans as they walk to see the president.  He says it's not easy electing to the presidency a vice-president who only became president with the assassination of President William McKinley.  So now Roosevelt is looking for some issue which can really get his candidacy fired up.  One of the men suggests/asks:  "Morocco?"  

Teddy is sparring with a boxing partner when the men arrive to see the president.  He immediately starts saying that the United States cannot permit its citizens abroad to be kidnapped off the street and held for ransom.  He adds:  "And I'll send the Atlantic Squadron to Morocco to get respect."  He goes on:  "America wants Pedecaris alive, or Raisuli dead."

The Pedecaris family are sleeping on beach sand near open water.  Around them sleeping are the bandits.  When Eden gets up the men start teasing her, grabbing her clothes from her suitcase.  It finally ends when Raisuli comes over and the family gets back on its horses. 

Palace of the Bashaw. Tangier.  Mr. Gummere and his assistant Richard Dreighton come to the Bashaw to ask him to use military force to go into the Rif region and bring back Eden Pedecaris and her two children.  The Bashaw says he has no power to make such a decision.  They must go see the sultan, but the sultan won't see them unless he wants to.  So Gummere asks what the Bashaw would recommend and the man says:  "Lions."  And so it will be Richard's job to get hold of two lions. 

Raisuli and his men stop for water.  He goes over to explain to Eden that he is not a barbarous man.  He is a scholar and a leader of his people.  And just after saying this he cuts the heads off of two men who drank from his well and ate from his trees.  Before leaving he burns some boats. 

Roosevelt is giving a speech at a railroad depot from the caboose.  He is asked about Morocco and he affirms that he is committed to protecting  Americans and their interests abroad. 

When night comes Eden sleeps in the tent with Raisuli.  The next day the two play chess.  While playing the game Eden asks him what does he intend to do with them?  He says he intends to embarrass Muli Abdul Hasis, the Sultan to Morocco.  He wants to show that he is a puppet and slave to the French and Germans.  The people will then join him in a jihad to throw out the foreigners.  He says he has demanded for her and her family gold, rifles, the head of the Bashaw in a basket of melons and the sovereignty of his people. 

A visitor and his men come to see Raisuli.  He is the Sherif of Wazan.  The Sherif is the man who speaks with the Europeans for Raisuli.  Roosevelt has replied in a note:  "Pedecaris alive or Raisuli dead." This makes Eden laugh again and Raisuli warns her that she is in no position to be laughing.  He tells the Sherif of Wazan to find a woman and cut off her pinky finger and sent it to Roosevelt, saying it's the finger of Eden Pedecaris. 

Presidential Hunting Camp on the Yellowstone.  Roosevelt killed a killer grizzly bear, which he regrets.  He says the American grizzly embodies the true spirit of America. 

Fez.  The seat of the Sultan.  Richard has brought two lions for the sultan.  How this Richard ever got in the "diplomatic" corps is a wonderment for all is does is quickly alienate people by his quick demands and severe threats of harm.  The sultan gets angry at Richard and says he doesn't understand the situation.  This Raisuli is the Sultan's uncle.  He is a good man, but also a brigand.  The Bashaw is the brother of Raisuli and also the Sultan's uncle. 

Raisuli and his men pay a visit to a fortress.  One of his men gives William a knife, which he now treasures. 

It's Roosevelt's birthday.  He is mostly concerned about getting a Winchester rifle according to his particular specifications, but once again the New Haven company has failed.  Roosevelt sends a note to the company asking what does a man have to do to get a proper fitting rifle, go to England?   The other thing he is concerned about is the position in which he wants his grizzly bear to be for the Smithsonian exhibition.  Roosevelt tells the Smithsonian to have the bear stand fully erect, with his teeth showing and his claws outstretched.  

Tangier, October 27.  Admiral Chadwick arrives at the American Embassy.  Gummere explains that the Sultan favors the German Kaiser, but the man with the real power, the Bashaw, is leaning toward the Tsar of Russia.  The admiral and Captain Jerome talk about seizing the government at the point of the bayonet.  The ambassador says if they fail, they will certainly be killed.  Captain Jerome says that if they failed, he hopes the whole world goes to war for that would certainly be quite the send-off.

Eden tells the children to get dressed.  They are going to escape.  She has bribed one of the men with her jewels.  William knocks out one of the sleeping guards with two flower pots.  In the early morning a guide leads the Americans out of the fortress and into the desert.  The fellow takes them down to the coast.  Below them are what looks like a band of brigands.  They walk like they are about to pounce on the Americans.  The Americans are turned over to the brigands and the guide is paid off.  He now takes back off into the hills.  A shot is heard.  The double-crossing guard's horse runs down to the beach.  Then Raisuli appears on the top of the hill.  He starts shooting the brigands one by one.  Some of the bad guys ride toward Raisuli to fight him with their swords, but he dispatches one after another of them.  Meanwhile, William kills one fellow and Eden another.  Soon there is no one left to kill. 

Raisuli takes the hostages to his house.  Eden again asks him what does he intend to do with them if he does not get the answer he wants from the Americans?  He says he will play her one more game of chess and then take her and her children back to her home in Tangier.  Eden starts crying saying that he never had any intention of killing them.  Raisuli says he does not kill women and children. 

Tangier Harbor, October 29.  Sailors and marines are in formation standing on the docks.  Captain Jerome takes up his position in front of the formation.  The marines and sailors march out and over to the American Embassy.  They double-time past the Germany Embassy.  When they reach the Bashaw's place, they kill everyone of the guards standing in front of the impressive building.  Then the marines and sailors charge into the building killing guard after guard.  They only stop when they reach the Bashaw.  Captain Jerome says the Bashaw is now his prisoner.  The Bashaw says that the captain is a very dangerous man and the American president is a madman. The captain replies:  "Yes, sir!"  The American flag is now flown over the Bashaw's palace.

Hay goes to speak to Roosevelt who is doing some target practice using targets with pictures of the Tsar and the Kaiser on them.  The secretary of state tells the president that he is a dangerous man.  Doesn't he realize that the recent actions in Morocco could mean a broader war?  Roosevelt says that would be exciting.  Hay gets disgusted and leaves. 

Raisuli tells his captive audience that he trusted his brother and openly opposed the old Sultan at Fez, but his brother betrayed him and he was sent to the dungeon on the edge of the sea at Mogador.  The next day the Sherif of Wazan arrives bringing the Bashaw's offer:  70,000 pieces of Spanish gold; all foreign soldiers to be removed from the Rife; and the Raisuli and his men will have the freedom to travel in the cities and marketplaces.  Eden urges Raisuli to act quickly because the longer he waits the more foreign troops will be brought into Morocco.  She says the foreign powers are using him as a dupe, an excuse, to bring in more and more soldiers.  The Sherif of Wazan says the woman speaks the truth, but Raisuli doesn't want to take any advice from a woman. 

Raisuli and the Sherif of Wazan ride out of their fortress headed to a small village east of Rabat.  They ride down to the town by the water, but when they ride down the main street they become surrounded by German soldiers.  The Sherif of Wazan pretends that he is an innocent partner helping to bring Raisuli into the authorities.  He calls Raisuli a brigand and demands payment for his services.  The German delivers payment and then the Sherif takes off.  He returns to the men in the hills. 

The Berbers go slowly and quietly down hill.  As they get closer, they dismount and walk their horses. 

William asks his mother what are they going to do to help the Raisuli?  She tells him he is not their concern now.  But later in the night Eden asks her son to give her his knife. She is able to put the knife up to the throat of Captain Jerome.  Then her children gather all the weapons together.  Then she releases the captain.  She says she and her children are going to release Raisuli.  The captain says he would like to join her venture and she accepts. 

The captain, Eden and some of the soldiers walk down the center street with the German troops watching them.  Meanwhile, the Berbers are getting ready to strike.  Getting close to the place of incarceration of the Raisuli, gunfire breaks out between the Germans and the Americans.  As they are killing each other, the Berbers go to the attack.  The Germans now have to fight the Americans and the Berbers.  Eden goes and frees the Raisuli. He grabs his sword and is ready to go into action, but Eden gives him a rifle to use.  Raisuli says:  "I'll see you again, Mrs. Pedecaris when we're both like golden clouds on the winds." 

The German commander sees Raisuli and is tempted to shoot him, but he decides to run him down with his horse and run him through with his sword.  Raisuli has to do some fancy footwork to avoid this fate.  The commander's horse falls into a mud hole leaving the commander sprawled before Raisuli.  Raisul bring his sword up and then down, but stops it before he hits the face of the German military leader.  He laughs, gets on the commander's horse and rides away.  As Raisuli rides out he grabs a rifle from the hands of William. 

Back in Washington, D.C. Roosevelt says that all he has to do is go to Oyster Bay for the weekend and the government of Morocco falls.    He also wants all those involved in the leading the expedition in Moroccan awarded with medals.   An adviser says that the USA can put anyone they like on the throne of Morocco. 

When he is alone with daughter Alice, he reads a note from Raisuli:  "You are like the wind and I, like the lion.  You form the tempest.  The sand stings my eyes and the ground is parched.  I roar in defiance, but you do not hear.  But between us, there is a difference.  I, like the lion, must remain in my place, while you, like the wind, will never know yours."

The Sherif of Wazan tells Raisuli that they have lost everything.  Raisuli replies:  "Sherif, is there not one thing in your life that was worth losing everything for?"   Both men laugh. 

 

The movie was a lot better than I thought it would be.  Things were looking up when I read the historical background via Wikipedia.  The film was only loosely based on the actual incident.  One thing that did not happen was the marines and sailors from the USA taking over the Bashaw's palace, although it sure looked neat in the film.  Roosevelt is painted to be a little too eager to use force to get his way on the world scene.  Oh, and it was the Spanish and the French involved in Morocco, not the Germans.  The real Raisuli was a bit of an anti-colonial freedom fighter.  Candice Bergen was good but her character Eden was designed to be a little too tough for my tastes.  She was too tough to establish a good relationship with the Raisuli, so there was always that tension between the two characters going on.  That is, until the ending part.  Sean Connery was good as Raisuli. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

 


Historical Background:

1840 – Ion Hanford Perdicaris was born in the United States. His father, Gregory Perdicaris, was a Greek who had emigrated to the United States from Athens. Dad marries into a wealthy family in South Carolina and becomes a US citizen. He later returns to Greece as US consul.

1846 – the Perdicaris family move to Trenton, New Jersey where dad becomes wealthy as one of the organizers of the Trenton Gas Company.

until the American Civil War, 1861-1865 – Ion lives the life of a dilettante.

By 1862 – the family's property in South Carolina is in danger of being confiscated by the government of the Confederate States of America. Ion Perdicaris travels to Greece to lose his American citizenship in favor of being a Greek citizen (so his property is South Carolina would not be confiscated).

Perdicaris moves to Tangier, Morocco. He builds a house known as the Place of Nightingales and fills it with exotic animals.

1871 – Perdicaris meets Ellen Varley, wife of the eminent telegraph engineer C.F. Varley in Malvern, England. Ellen abandons Varley for Perdicaris.

1873 – the Varleys divorce. Ellen settles in Tangier with Perdicaris, her two sons and two daughters. Perdicaris becomes the unofficial head of Tangier's foreign community.

1904 (May 18) – the bandid Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli kidnaps Perdicaris, and Ellen's son Cromwell. Ellen is not taken.

Perdicaris broke his leg in a horse fall.

Raisuli demands of Sultan Abdelaziz of Morocco, $70,000 ransom, safe conduct, and control of two of Morocco's wealthiest districts.

Pedicaris comes to be a friend to Raisuli. He writes: "He is not a bandit, not a murderer, but a patriot forced into acts of brigandage to save his native soil and his people from the yoke of tyranny."

President Theodore Roosevelt is really angry over this kidnapping. So he dispatches seven war ships under the command of Admiral French Ensor Chadwick, and several Marine companies, commanded by Major John Twiggs Myers.

The only plan is to seize the custom-houses of Morocco, if the Moroccan government did not fulfill the demands of the United States. The USA wants the concessions necessary to persuade Raisuli to release Perdicaris, and to attack Raisuli if Perdicaris is killed anyway. The only Marines to actually land onshore were a small detachment of a dozen men, carrying only side-arms, who arrived to protect the Consulate and Mrs. Perdicaris.

1904 (June 1) – Roosevelt learns that Perdicaris is not even a US citizen. This, however, doesn’t bother Theodore because Raisuli grabbed Perdicaris because he though the man was an American citizen.

Britain and France do not cooperate with the US in a combined military action to rescue Perdicaris. But they did help put pressure on the Sultan to accept Raisuli's demands.

1904 (June 21) – the Sultan agrees to Raisuli’s demands. Hay saw the need to save face so he issues a statement to the Republican National Convention: "This government wants Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead."

The Republican Convention then went wild for Roosevelt. They supported the President’s actions. The phrase Hay invented served to help Roosevelt secure the election.

Perdicaris is released.

Perdicaris and his family move to England.

1925 – Ion Perdicaris dies in London in 1925.

 

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