Italy lifts ban on ‘Lion’

Move prompted by Libyan leader Gadhafi's visit

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi‘s first state visit to Italy has prompted a cinematic detente of sorts.

Gadhafi’s arrival in Rome, where he pitched a Bedouin tent in a public park, prompted Italy to break with a longstanding ban by censors of the 1981 Hollywood epic “Lion of the Desert,” which stars Anthony Quinn as Omar al-Mukhtar, the Libyan hero who fought against Benito Mussolini’s army when Libya was a colony of fascist Italy.

Provocatively, Gadhafi exited his jet wearing a large picture of the iconic al-Mukhtar pinned to his chest.

“Lion” — bankrolled by Gadhafi and praised by Variety as “frequently stirring” had been banned since 1981 as “offensive to Italy’s military honor.” But with the ban lifted, the pic aired the day after Gadhafi’s visit on Sky Italia.

Recently trumpeted plans for “Years of Torment,” another big-budget Gadhafi-financed epic set during Italian occupation, appear to be stalled, however.

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