Sahara - Adventure in the desert

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German title Sahara - Adventure in the desert
Original title Sahara
Country of production Germany , Great Britain , Spain , USA
original language English
Publishing year 2005
length 124 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
JMK 14
Director Breck Eisner
script Thomas Dean Donnelly ,
Joshua Oppenheimer ,
John C. Richards ,
James V. Hart
production Mace Neufeld ,
Howard Baldwin ,
Karen Elise Baldwin ,
Stephanie Austin
music Clint Mansell
camera Seamus McGarvey
cut Andrew MacRitchie

Sahara is a 2005 American adventure film based on the novel Operation Sahara by American author Clive Cussler .


An unknown disease is spreading in West Africa . However, the authorities are not allowed to investigate the causes in Mali - where the origin of the disease is suspected. Out of necessity, WHO doctors Eva Rojas and Frank Hopper turn to the two NUMA adventurers Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino. They want after the mysterious ironclad CSS Texas Confederate states in the American Civil War were looking for, which in Africa is to be stranded and take doctors a piece of the Niger with up.

But Dirk and Al keep clashing with enemy soldiers of the feared Malian warlord General Zateb Kazim. When the WHO doctors were ambushed by the military and Dr. Hopper is killed, the remaining trio suspect that a conspiracy is underway. Kazim actually made a secret deal with the French industrialist Yves Massarde, who dumped tons of toxic waste in a solar waste incineration plant . This seeps into an underground tributary of the Niger and thereby contaminates the groundwater.

In the meantime, Dirks and Als allies Admiral Sandecker and Rudi Gunn have found out that the toxins introduced by Massarde cause the growth of red algae , which, if it gets into the oceans, could immediately endanger the global climate.

Dirk, Al and Eva are able to break into the factory and prevent it from being destroyed at the last minute. In an action-packed showdown, they finally manage not only to locate the mysterious ironclad , but also to eliminate Kazim and overpower his army with the help of some friendly Tuareg tribes.

The risk of contamination can be eliminated, massards punished and a cargo of gold found on the ship brought to safety.

Comparison book - film

The film was based on the book Operation Sahara by Clive Cussler and is one of more than twenty works from a series of books about the NUMA hero Dirk Pitt and his sidekick Al Giordino. Several passages of the book were changed for the film.

  • The fate of Abraham Lincoln described in the book - he was a passenger on the ironclad and is discovered by Dirk and Al in the desert - has been completely dropped.
  • The same goes for the story arc around the UNO reaction force, their support for Dirk and Al and their desperate fight against Kazim's forces until reinforcements arrive. The whole thing was finally reduced to the fight of the hero trio against a small battle group of Kazims.
  • The ironclad was just a framework story and had little to do with the actual story. Kazim's death was much less spectacular in the book. For the film, both storylines were put together for a Hollywood-style showdown.
  • The story of Kitty Mannock (as an explanation for the plane wreck found by Dirk and Al in the desert) was also not discussed. The scenes were shot and are on the DVD as an extra, but not used for the film.
  • In addition, the punitive mine operated by Kazim, in which the WHO doctors are held and from which Dirk, Al and the UN soldiers eventually rescue them, has not been described. A story about the Tuareg was woven in for this. A use of the ruthless Irish mine supervisor Selig O'Bannion can largely be seen in the character of Massarde's bodyguard Zakara.
  • Rudi Gunn's escape from Mali was much more extensive in the book. The same applies to the weight of his part.
  • A branch about the UN Secretary General and a renegade and traitorous WHO doctor is also missing.
  • The very innovative death of Yves Massarde described in the book is only hinted at in the film.
  • Agent Carl, played by Delroy Lindo, is an invention for the script and does not appear in the book.
  • As a running gag of the book series, Clive Cussler always wrote a cameo in his novels. Something similar was omitted in the film.
  • In the books, Dirk and Al served in the US Air Force . In the film you can see photos of Dirk and Al during the credits, which she shows in the uniform of the US Navy .


  • The film was shot from January to March 2004, first in Morocco , then for a month in Spain and finally for another five weeks in Great Britain . Filming in Africa was often hampered by sandstorms that occurred. In England the shots of the moving ironclad from the beginning of the film were made on a remote army site.
  • Actually, Sahara should be realized much earlier. Filming was scheduled to begin in the summer of 2001 with Hugh Jackman in the lead. However, the rotation was because of the attacks of September 11 put on hold. When the tide had calmed down in 2003, Jackman was no longer available because he was filming X-Men 2 . In the meantime, rumors were circulating that Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt should play the role.
  • In the opening credits, there is a panning through Dirk Pitt's study, including several newspaper clippings. One refers to Dirk's lifting action on the Titanic . This is also a reference to another Cussler book - Raise the Titanic! - which was one of the first publications and has already been made into a film.
  • While the boat hunt on the Niger, Al looks for cigars. This is a cross-reference to another insider gag of the Dirk Pitt book series: the "Cigar War" between Giordino and Admiral Sandecker.
  • Leading actor Matthew McConaughey also acted as one of the executive producers after working with the character for seven years. As Dirk Pitt, he wore green contact lenses according to the novels and colored his hair brown. In addition, he was promoting his film by a Ford - Pickup and a trailer with Sahara drove -Aufschrift by the United States.
  • Dayna Cussler, the daughter of the author Clive Cussler, acted as actress in the unused scenes with Kitty Mannock.
  • Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz actually became a couple after filming was over. However, the relationship broke up due to the long-distance relationship.
  • The interior set of Massarde's incinerator is an England-based factory and test center for former Concorde aircraft turbines.

Criticism and financial success

Sahara received mixed reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes , the film received 38% approval from 175 reviews: "A simple-minded adventure flick with an absurd plot."

The film was a box office flop. A budget of $ 160 million was set against box office revenues of just $ 119 million.


Literature template

  • Clive Cussler: Operation Sahara. Goldmann, 2005, ISBN 3442461553 (German paperback new edition with film image cover)
  • Clive Cussler: Sahara: A Dirk Pitt Adventure. Pocket, 2005, ISBN 1416513418 (English paperback new edition with film image cover)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Certificate of Release for Sahara Desert Adventure . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , May 2005 (PDF; test number: 102 341 K).
  2. Age rating for Sahara - Adventure in the desert . Youth Media Commission .
  3. Sahara . In: Rotten Tomatoes . Flixster.
  4. Eller, Claudia, "The costliest box office flops of all time , Los Angeles Times (January 15, 2014)