Sean Connery plays Mulay Achmed Mohammed el-Raisuli, Lord of the Rif and Sultan to the Berbers. In real life the man was Mulai Ahmed er Raisuni (Raisuli) (1871-1925), a Sherif and Lord of the Rif in Morocco, a tribal leader and brigand, “the last of the Barbary pirates.”
The Wind and the Lion (1975, rate PG, 119 minutes) is a dramatic interpretation of a real incident in Morocco in 1904. The real Raisuli kidnapped an American, Ion “Jon” Hanford Perdicaris (1840-1925) and his stepson, and held the two for ransom. President Teddy Roosevelt sent U.S. marines to rescue the men. Ultimately, the government of Morocco paid the ransom and the men were released.
The movie is wonderfully dashing, and the brutal details are romantically minimized. The captive American, Mrs. Eden Pedecaris (Candice Bergen), doesn’t quite fall in love with the Raisuli, but it seems to be a close call.
Connery, with all of his moustaches and flowing robes, is a first class bad-guy hero, and he has a good heart. He’s happy to get his money, but he’s sorry to say goodbye to Mrs. Pedecaris.
In the final scene, the Raisuli and his lieutenant, the Sherif of Wazan, are silhouetted on a high beach against the setting sun, and the Sherif plaintively declares “Great Raisuli, we have lost everything. All is drifting on the wind as you said. We have lost everything.” Raisuli revives the heart throbs: “Sherif, is there not one thing in your life that is worth losing everything for?”