John Malkovich and Debra Winger are travellers, not tourists, in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky

Take another look at…The Sheltering Sky

Mid 1930s: an American couple are travelling with a friend through North Africa.

He is a composer.

She is a one-time playwright.

The friend is a New York socialite.

Why they are there, and what happens to them, is the story of this rich work from director Bernardo Bertolucci.

Is it a road film, a romance, or a documentary?

The Sheltering Sky is all of these and more.

Just as you begin to understand it something will happen to get you thinking.

A character will act in an unusual way, or there will be a sudden change of location, or dialogue will be dropped, leaving the story to be propelled by action.

Mark Peploe’s work on Bertolucci’s screenplay is excellent.

His touch gives the script body, direction and focus.

The characters are fully developed.

The cinematography of Vittorio Storaro is — as it was with The Last Tango in Paris — perfect.

And as Port Moresby, the composer, John Malkovich is excellent.

The Sheltering Sky steers away from straight drama.

It is thoughtful, stylish and original.

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