Morocco (1930) is a movie that takes place in Mogador – Morocco. It deals with the colonial presence in Morocco. Looking at the general review of the movie we see that on the surface it deals with a love story. Ishtar (1987) is an American comedy movie which takes place near the Moroccan border – Ishtar.
Morocco hasn’t got much of a plot; Amy Jolly falls in love with Cooper, the French Foreign Legion. In this movie the director Josef Von Sternberg focuses more on the Oriental representation of Morocco; there is an obvious Arabnightizing of Morocco in terms of music, decoration, lascivious women, etc. Ishtar is directed by Elaine May. The cover shows a blind camel in the act of singing framed within an Aladanian gate. In another version of Ishtar’s cover, there are two American men wearing Oriental clothes and trying to move the blind camel forcefully, and hills of sand in the background. The movie revolves around two untalented lounge American singers and songwriters, Chuck Clarke and Lyle Rogers, who travelled to Morocco looking for work, and all of a sudden they found themselves entangled into Middle Eastern politics and war. Eventually, the fate of the entire Middle East is in the hands of these two American men. Again in this movie Morocco is represented as mysterious, and again the same static image of Morocco: camels, sand, primitive people, etc. The American woman, Shirra, disguises her real identity wearing native man’s clothes throughout the movie.
Morocco, in both movies, is represented as an empty space that is occupied mainly by Westerners. Natives are not given space; they are just there confirming the exploitation of their space with no action, and only giving a local touch to the films. Westerners who are in control of the action and of the fate of the native’s country. The titles of these movies remain just attractive names, inviting the West to conquer and colonize this empty space.