Endless Sands: 20 Desert Survival Movies

There are enough places on planet Earth that are clearly not intended for humans. Scorching heat and lack of water, dead dunes and sandstorms – in order to withstand such conditions, one must be either a hardened survivalist or a real Bedouin. The heroes of films about the desert – some of their own free will, and some by the will of fate – find themselves in this dangerous natural trap. Everyone has their own causes and consequences, but no one will be left without threats to life and truly hot adventures.

Desert (2019)

A loving couple sets off to travel around Australia, hoping to admire kangaroos, koalas and other exotic things. Along the way, the relationship between a guy and a girl deteriorates sharply, and a glitched navigator leads travelers to desert territories. A romantic trip loses its entertaining spirit – now the lovers are faced with the task of at least simply surviving.

What do you think, is it worth filming a sequel, and what should be in it?

Original title:
Outback

Genre:
Thriller

Actors:
Lauren Lofberg, Taylor Weese, Brendan Donoghue …

Country:
Australia

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.1, IMDb – 5.0

Age limit:
18+


4 cans (2019)

Foreign drama film about adventures in the desert under the scorching sun of Africa. The three drivers made a living driving expensive cars across the Sahara. Many years later, the men gave up the risky business . When one of the trio, who lives in Timbuktu, is diagnosed with a fatal diagnosis, his friends are looking for his adult daughter. Together with a girl, friends go on a racing Renault in 1982 on a long journey along the old African route.

Original title:
4 latas

Genre:
Drama, comedy

Actors:
Jean Reno, Hovik Keuchkeryan, Susanna Gomez …

Country:
Spain

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.5, IMDb – 5.9


Survivor (2017)

Resting in a cozy house in the middle of desert places with a married lover and his friends turned into a gang rape for a young girl. The men thought the victim was dead and hid the body, but the girl survived. Pain and despair gave way to a sizzling thirst for revenge. The crime thriller came out so bloody that the film crew constantly ran out of artificial blood.

Original title:
Revenge

Genre:
Action, thriller, crime

Actors:
Matilda Anna Ingrid Luts, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Columbus …

Country:
France, Belgium

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.7, IMDb – 6.4

Age restrictions:
18+


Mina (2016)

A feature film in the thriller genre about the survival of an American soldier in the desert. A sniper , returning from a failed mission, steps on an anti-personnel mine in the African desert. Any movement will lead to inevitable death, and you will have to wait for help for more than two days. The military, who arrived from across the ocean, is threatened not only by his own fears and predators roaming nearby, but also by terrorists following him .

Original title:
Mine

Genre:
Thriller, drama

Actors:
Armie Hammer, Annabelle Wallis, Tom Cullen …

Country:
USA, Spain, Italy

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.3, IMDb – 5.9

Age restrictions:
16+


Days of Temptation (2015)

A religious drama based on a famous story from the New Testament. Jesus Christ spends time in solitude to deal with doubts, resist temptations and realize his divine-human nature. The cunning demon intends to lead the Son of God from the righteous path. Jesus selflessly struggles with earthly passions, and also shows the true path to a family tormented by contradictions.

Original title:
Last Days in the Desert

Genre:
Drama, adventure

Actors:
Ewan McGregor, Susan Gray, Tai Sheridan …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.7, IMDb – 5.6

Age restrictions:
16+


Desert (2015)

A tense film about the survival of people in the desert confronts the characters not only with the destructive effects of nature, but also with human hatred. A group of Mexicans plans to illegally sneak into the United States. On the way, a truck breaks down and the migrants have to walk through a deserted area. Near the border, illegal immigrants are set on fire by a cruel punisher who does not want to see people who come in large numbers in their country.

Original title:
Desierto

Genre:
Thriller, drama

Actors:
Gael Garcia Bernal, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Alondra Hidalgo …

Country:
Mexico, France

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.9, IMDb – 6.0

Age restrictions:
18+


Pride (2014)

During World War I, a British officer and an Arabic translator must reach a secret destination, but the roads are controlled by bandits. A recently orphaned boy from a Bedouin tribe volunteers to lead the military on secret paths through the hot sands of the desert region. The younger unintelligent brother also ties in with the young guide.

Original title:
Theeb

Genre:
Thriller, drama, adventure

Actors:
Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat, Hassan Mutlag Al-Maraiyeh, Hussein Salameh Al-Sweilhiyeen…

Country:
UAE, Qatar, Jordan, UK

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 7.2


Survival Game (2014)

Spectacular movie about the desert is full of horrors and extreme adventures. The billionaire goes hunting for rare animals in places where there is a fifty-degree heat. Having mistakenly killed a man, the rich man, in order to avoid problems with the law, decides to get rid of the witness and leaves his guide without water, equipment and clothes. However, the young tracker, unlike the presumptuous oligarch, knows how to survive in extreme conditions.

Original title:
Beyond the Reach

Genre:
Thriller

Actors:
Michael Douglas, Jeremy Irwin, Hanna Mangan Lawrence…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.7, IMDb – 5.6

Age Limits :
18+


Desert Queen (2014)

The historical film about the desert is based on real events – facts from the biography of the British traveler, writer and spy Gertrude Bell. A young Oxford graduate does not want to lead a secular lifestyle befitting an aristocrat. The girl goes to her uncle, a diplomat in Tehran, and begins to study the local tribes. The adventurer is waiting for a meeting with various dangers and true love.

Original title:
Queen of the Desert

Genre:
Drama, romance, adventure, biography, history

Actors:
Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Robert Pattinson…

Country:
USA, Morocco

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.8, IMDb – 5.7

Age restrictions:
16+


Scenic Route (2013)

Two loser friends go on a journey, not even suspecting that the fateful trip will be a test of friendship . In the desert regions, where there are no people and communications, the car breaks down. The chances of getting help from anywhere are minimal. A real struggle for life awaits friends, but instead of unity, the test brings constant quarrels, gradually developing into an increasingly violent conflict.

Original title:
Scenic Route

Genre:
Thriller, drama

Actors:
Josh Duhamel, Dan Fogler, Peter Michael Getz …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 6.5

Age restrictions:
18+


Trails (2013)

The list of the best films about the desert continues the real story of a purposeful traveler. The girl, in order to test her strength, decides to cross Australia alone, taking only a dog and camels. The path of the adventurer lies thousands of kilometers away from civilization. A travel magazine, in exchange for financial support, gets permission for its photographer to take pictures and hand over notes from the adventurer as it progresses.

Original title:
Tracks

Genre:
Drama, biography

Actors:
Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, Rolly Mintuma…

Country:
Australia

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.0, IMDb – 7.2

Age limit:
16+


Black Gold (2011)

In the early thirties of the twentieth century, colossal oil reserves were discovered in the sands of war-torn Arabia. Local sheikhs intend to take profitable land under their control. The young intellectual prince studies the oil business in detail and finds an extraordinary way to rise to the top of power. The ambitious politician manages to turn the scattered impoverished principalities into a single rich state.

Original title:
Black Gold

Genre:
Drama, adventure, military

Actors:
Antonio Banderas, Tahar Rahim, Mark Strong …

Country:
France, Italy, Qatar, Tunisia

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.3, IMDb – 6.7

Age restrictions:
16+


Last flight (2009)

Top adventure films about the desert continues the story of a brave pilot who went to the Sahara in search of her lover. The brave pilot crashed somewhere over the hot sands in an attempt to make a record flight from London to Cape Town. The captain of the French troops abandoned in Africa volunteers to help the girl. In the midst of oceans of sand, a sudden passion flares up between the military man and the heroine.

Original title:
Le dernier vol

Genre:
Drama, melodrama, adventure

Actors:
Marion Cotillard, Guillaume Canet, Guillaume Marquet…

Country:
France

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.3, IMDb – 5.5

Age restrictions:
16+


Dry Bone (2007)

A man returning home is attacked by a strange stranger, after which he regains consciousness in the middle of the desert expanses of Texas. On the radio, the hero receives instructions where to move. For any deviation from the route, an unknown voice threatens with death. On the way, the hero will have to face difficult trials and sophisticated traps, as well as realize that everything that happens is revenge for a long-standing crime.

Original title:
Bone Dry

Genre:
Action, thriller, drama

Actors:
Luke Goss, Lance Henriksen, Dee Wallace-Stone …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.1, IMDb – 5.4

Age restrictions:
18+


Marines (2005)

A military feature film , set in a desert, reflects the mindless routine of slurred combat in a foreign country. The young infantryman completed a training course at a recruit camp and, along with other soldiers, was sent to Iraq. The enemy is cunning and almost invisible. The terrible heat exhausts the soul and body. The goals of the protracted military conflict in the Middle East remain incomprehensible to ordinary soldiers.

Original title:
Jarhead

Genre:
Action, drama, military, biography

Actors:
Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx…

Country:
USA, UK, Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.0, IMDb – 7.0

Age limit:
16+


Sahara (2005)

A naval engineer and former commando searches West Africa for a sunken American battleship with Confederate gold on board. The hero saves the life of a female doctor who arrived on behalf of the World Health Organization to fight the epidemic raging in these parts . The local authorities involved in the creation of the virus intend to eliminate the dangerous specialist.

Original title:
Sahara

Genre:
Action, thriller, comedy, adventure

Actors:
Matthew McConaughey, Penelope Cruz, Steve Zan…

Country:
UK, Spain, Germany, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 6.0

Age limit:
12+


Hidalgo: Desert Chase (2004)

The thrilling action-adventure takes place in the desert, the local sports arena for the Arab derby. For the first time, a wealthy sheikh allowed foreigners to ride across the barren Arabian sands. A dashing American cowboy on a spotted mustang volunteered to compete with the Bedouins. Defeat in an exhausting race can turn into death, and in case of victory, problems with competitors who do not want to give money and fame to a stranger cannot be avoided.

Original title:
Hidalgo

Genre:
Action, drama, adventure, western, biography, sports

Actors:
Viggo Mortensen, Zuleiha Robinson, Omar Sharif …

Country:
USA, Morocco

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.5, IMDb – 6.7

Age restrictions:
16+


Flight of the Phoenix (2004)

A fascinating film about people lost in the desert keeps in suspense until the very end. The plane, which was taking oil workers out of the Mongolian field, crashes in the lifeless dunes of the Gobi. The scorching sun, sandstorms and lack of water threaten to completely destroy the team. Unexpectedly, the man who asked to take him as a passenger on this fatal flight declares that he is an aircraft designer and invites his companions to design a new aircraft.

Original title:
Flight of the Phoenix

Genre:
Action, thriller, drama, romance, adventure

Actors:
Dennis Quaid, Giovanni Ribisi, Miranda Otto …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.8, IMDb – 6.1

Age restrictions:
12+


Jerry (2002)

Two namesake friends decided to visit the famous Death Valley. Having turned off the tourist route, friends were lost in deserted expanses without food, water and means of communication. The extreme situation, threatening death, is exacerbated by constant quarrels. On the eve of filming, the director and the leading actors burned the script, so the dialogues sound like a continuous improvisation of the actors.

Original title:
Gerry

Genre:
Drama, detective, adventure

Actors:
Casey Affleck, Matt Damon

Country:
USA, Argentina, Jordan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 6.1

Age restrictions:
16+


Rabbit Cage (2002)

In the 1930s, the Australian authorities pursued a brutal policy of assimilation. Children were taken from Aboriginal families and sent to study in distant camps. Three brave sisters escape from security to cross the whole of Australia and return to their home. The touching film is based on the novel by Doris Pilkington, based on the memoirs of the writer’s mother.

Original title:
Rabbit-Proof Fence

Genre:
Drama, adventure, biography

Actors:
Everlyn Sampi, Tiana Sunsbury, Laura Monahan …

Country:
Australia

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 7.4

Age restrictions:
12+


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Jared Lambert/ author of the article

I’ve been writing about movies, TV shows and anime for over 3 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

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