What is it about?

This article examines the theme guerrilla insurgents as screaming tribal rebels.This deals with the way that the Berber people from North Africa have been portrayed in the relatively unknown ‘Rif Revolt’ in the Rif area of Northern Morocco in the early 1920s, led by the guerrilla leader Abd el-Krim. Between 1921 and 1926 a short-lived republic was established among the Berber peoples in the Rif before it was destroyed by a combined force of Spanish and French colonial troops. Krim was an important North African guerrilla leader, comparable to the Libyan insurgent leader of the same period Omar Mukhtar (the central character of the 1981 film Lion of the Desert graphically portraying Italian counterinsurgency against the Libyan tribes in the late 1920s under Marshall Graziani). Compared to Mukhtar, Abd el-Krim has been extensively portrayed on film in a variety of different forms since the era of silent cinema, forming in effect a Krim cinematic legend that can be traced right up to the adventure film The Wind and the Lion (1975) starring Sean Connery as a romantic ‘Arab’ (as opposed to Berber) raider in early twentieth century Morocco. Er and Rich show that much of this Krim legend became linked with a sort of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ myth transferred to the Rif. It became associated with a white German deserter from the French Foreign Legion, Joseph Klems, who came to fight with the Riffians. Klems was credited with giving the Riffians some military training, though not on anything like the scale suggested in the 1971 Italian film Sergeant Klems since in reality he was little more than a common criminal and serial imposter who was eventually captured after the collapse of the Rif Republic. The Riffians fought in the early years quite a successful guerrilla war against the Spanish and French until it was overwhelmed by the sheer force of the colonial armies brought to bear on them by the mid-1920s. Few films deal with this or Krim's guerrilla strategy, which is seen largely from an external point of view.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

This article suggests that the films set in the Rif of the twenties can be seen in terms of the wider impact of screen Orientalism derived from the iconic film Lawrence of Arabia (1962). The article will show that these films promoted what it terms a colonial gaze by underlining many stereotyped cinematic clichés relating to the Islamic cultural area and Abd el-Krim's revolt that stretch back to the early history of cinema.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Abd el-Krim's guerrilla war against Spain and France in North Africa: An adventure setting for screen melodramas, Small Wars and Insurgencies, July 2015, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/09592318.2015.1050847.
You can read the full text:



The following have contributed to this page