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The Sheik Blu-ray Review

“The Sheik” hasn’t aged well.

Celebrating its 100 year anniversary, 1921’s “The Sheik” (which is based on the novel of the same name) revolves around a wealthy Sheik/Prince named Ahmed Ben Hassan who encounters an independent, risk taking Englishwoman (Lady Diana Mayo) who is looking to tour the desert. Infatuated by her, Ben has her kidnapped and brought to his desert oasis. While in the desert, she initially wants to escape her confines, meets a writer friend of Ben’s (Raoul), encounters a bandit (Omair) who covets Diana and slowly falls for Ben.

Directed by George Melford, “The Sheik” is perhaps best known as one of mega star Rudolph Valentino’s big movies. The actor and former sex symbol isn’t quite as well known in this day and age as silent films continue to sadly fade into obscurity, but in the 20’s he was a box office superstar. It’s easy to see why Valentino was so well regarded in “The Sheik” as the actor has charisma and hypnotic eyes. Looking past his star appeal, however, “The Sheik” doesn’t have much to offer looking at the film now.

Technically, “The Sheik” is impressive with its lavish costumes, big sets, impressive location shooting, and extravagant action scenes. Outside of that, the story itself is essentially a creepy romance with an entitled Ben holding his crush hostage. There’s arguably a bit of stockholm syndrome here as Diana begins to fall for Ben in the end. Sure, Ben learns the error of his ways and saves the day but that doesn’t make up for the unsettling elements. 

On top of that, the movie suffers from some blatant racism against Arabs and sexism (particularly in regards to the treatment and portrayal of Diana’s character)


Presentation: 1.33:1 1080p. How does it look? The B&W print has been cleaned up as best as can be but there are still scratches, lines, and general print damage present (the title cards look particularly rough).

Audio Track: Dolby TrueHD 2.0. How does it sound? The new score by Roger Bellon is clean, but the score is too modern for my taste and doesn’t fit the movie very well.

The lone extra is the 12 ½ minute “Desert Heat: 100 Years With The Sheik” which features an interview with film historian Professor Leslie Midkiff Debauche who talks about the film, context of the time period of its release, the novel the film is based on, etc.

November 4, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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