Sahara (with Michael Palin) ep4
(GROANS OF EFFORT)
In the heart of the Sahara,
national frontiers are often flimsy affairs.
I'm in a no man's land
near In-Guezzam on the border between Niger and Algeria.
These chunks of scrap metal seek to assure me
that I'm crossing the dividing line
between two of the largest countries in the Sahara.
It's a terrible anti-climax - a scribble in the concrete.
It reminds me of a tombstone. Maybe that's appropriate,
for this whole godforsaken area,
haunt of smugglers and bandits,
feels like a graveyard.
No point waiting around for customs!
Goodbye, Niger, hello, Algeria!
It's time to unwind and look around.
Algeria, tenth-largest country in the world,
is 85 per cent desert - dangerous desert.
As many have discovered to their cost,
driving here is not a right, it's a test of survival.
The soft sand is treacherous, the temperature scorching,
and failure can be fatal.
The route from the Niger border up into Algeria
is absolutely littered with the bleached carcasses
of vehicles that tried to cross the Sahara and never made it.
It's so bleak and pitiless here
that what might be a routine problem elsewhere,
like running out of fuel, is a matter of life and death.
This was the area where Mark Thatcher went missing.
He was only found after an enormous rescue operation,
and other people just weren't so lucky,
and they paid for their mistakes with their lives.
The desert does weird things to your sense of reality.
As we head north,
the shady rocks and cool lakes on the horizon
turn out to be mirages - nothing more than a trick of the light.
This wholly edible non-mirage of fresh tomatoes
and not so fresh tuna is real enough,
but it's accompanied by, well, a pretty rum coincidence!
I'm writing up my diary,
when I bump into the only other Englishman in southern Algeria,
or rather HE, poor man, bumps into us!
The number plate is the first clue.
The lone Mercedes belongs to Tom Sheppard,
and, no, it isn't a mirage.
Tom Sheppard is something of a legend out here.
He's a 68-year-old ex-RAF test pilot who travels the desert,
writing books, taking photos,
and devoting much effort to getting away from people.
I'm on my own, yeah.
I've come down from the north of Algeria, from Tunisia,
and I'm going very carefully around the old French tracks.
When you're travelling, what do you survive on?
I had a birthday two days ago,
and had a really special meal on that one -
meat and two veg and chilled grapefruit.
A damp kitchen towel and the dryness of the air
makes evaporation, and you get cool grapefruit segments.
What more could you ask for?
Does loneliness worry you?
It's been more lonely than I expected.
The last session was about eight days
between seeing one human being and the next.
I didn't expect it to be that long!
(MICHAEL) Does that worry you?
No, it's just so beautiful to be out there.
You get such a lift from the countryside.
Every morning you think,
''I've exhausted the pictures I can take,''
then the next morning you look up and think, ''Look at that!''
And that's what the desert has always been for me.
40 years of it now!
That you've been coming to the Sahara?
Yeah, one way or another.
This is my lucky 13th visit to Algeria.
(MICHAEL) We're having some lunch. Would you like to join us?
That's kind of you, but I've got to be on my way now, actually.
Good for Tom! Anyone who can be THAT busy in a place like this
wins my respect! Maybe it was the tuna?
As Tom hurries south, we head north
into the weird and wonderful Hoggar mountains,
one of the most bizarre landscapes in the Sahara.
It's like riding through a giant sculpture park.
The hard cores of extinct volcanoes
form a panorama of bluffs and spires and pinnacles.
These are young peaks, their sides deeply scarred
by the explosive force of their creation.
The Touareg call this land Atakor,
like something out of Lord of the Rings.
Next morning, I climb to the top of a 9,000-foot mountain
to watch the sun rise.
Because of Algeria's ten-year civil war,
the Hoggar massif is rarely visited,
which only increases the impact of its beauty.
Down in the dormitory where we spent the night, we pack up.
Our newly acquired sense of peace
is about to be rudely shattered.
This is the other face of Algeria -
a modern republic which freed itself from the French
and is now trying to free itself from Islamic radicals.
Airlines and newspapers can't disguise underlying tensions,
or the fact that these 21st-century comforts
are paid for by one great stroke of fortune.
This is Algeria's Aladdin's cave -
oil and natural gas fields
that provide 90 per cent of the country's foreign earnings.
They've spawned high security towns in the middle of nowhere,
like this one at Hassi Massaoud.
45 years ago, there was nothing here but desert.
This amazing transformation is the result of electric pumps
working 24 hours a day, seven days a week,
to pump water up from vast reservoirs
sometimes thousands of feet below the Sahara.
The result is a man-made oasis,
and this extraordinary illusion
that in the middle of the desert, there is no desert.
It's not just like being in a French provincial town,
but French countryside as well.
These are very different from their bony counterparts in Mali and Niger.
It shows what can be done to the desert if there's a will
and a petrochemical industry to back it up.
A few miles from where they first discovered the oil
that so changed Algeria's fortunes,
there is another frontier.
On the other side of it, an even richer country.
This lonely tree
represents the border
between Algeria and Libya.
It's one of the most spectacular frontiers in the world,
and also one of the friendliest.
People from Algeria and Libya sit under the tree
and take tea.
I don't want to leave this beautiful spot,
but leave we must,
across the border
into the sands of Libya.
In Libya, like Algeria, the bulk of the population
clings to the Mediterranean coast.
It's been quite a coup to get permission to film here,
and I'm not going to miss a minute of it.
Well, maybe just a minute!
This looks like being one of the longest bus rides of my life.
To all appearances, Libya has plenty of money but few people,
which is not surprising
as they have the world's third-largest oil revenues
to divide amongst a population less than that of London.
In Benghazi, Libya's second city, you can see the layers of history.
A mosque is beside a palazzo built by Italian colonists.
It now houses one of the committees
which run the great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamariyah.
It feels sleepy, but 60 years ago this coastline
was one of the great Second World War battlefields.
(ARCHIVE COMMENTARY) The British have more to contend with
than just Germans and Italians. Choking sandstorms occur daily,
but they don't interfere with the job - to destroy the enemy.
(WOMAN) It's the most tremendous battle.
It was a real turning point. If you forget your history,
it comes back and hits you in the back of the neck!
Over the last few years, Lady Avril Randell
has organised reunions for Desert Rats and their relatives.
Today, they're at Tobruk.
Survivors, now in their 80s,
remember what it was like to be trapped here.
There were no girls, no bars.
It was just desert,
and to spend from the age of 20, 21, 22 in that environment,
Food, well, it was corned beef, bully beef,
in one form or another.
We were down to about a cup of water a day,
and that was for everything,
and yet, the surprising thing was none of us grew beards!
Highlight of the reunion is the floating of a wreath
into the harbour these men defended for so long.
Without this vital supply line, the allied army in Africa
would have faced almost certain defeat.
There was nothing inside the garrison at all,
only ammunition and men,
and so they had to bring all our food and supplies up,
and they had to get it here somehow.
Rommel said that the desert was a tactician's paradise
and a quartermaster's nightmare,
and that was the fact.
It was like a naval battle at sea with the tanks,
great fleets of tanks,
but if the petrol and ammunition didn't get there,
you were in trouble.
There were 25,000 of us in here,
and that's where we won the name Rats, you know?
Haw-Haw used to say, ''Come out of your holes, you rats!''
Well, we did eventually.
We came out a bit too quick for him eventually!
(PLAYS ''SCOTLAND THE BRAVE'')
It's unlikely that any of these Desert Rats will see Tobruk again.
It's a long way, and they're not getting any younger.
Today may be the last time they celebrate the efforts of those
who gave Hitler the first bloody nose of the war,
and one from which he never recovered.
What's been the high point of this trip for you?
The last march past of the old Rats with the bugler and piper
and the Rats of Tobruk Association standard.
(MAN) Do your duties. Dismiss!
(AVRIL RANDELL) The boys can now march off into the sunset.
You'll never see them again.
Modern Libya has often cut itself off from the West,
but over 2,000 years ago, it was an integral part of Europe.
The Greeks and then the Romans were drawn to this fertile land
between the sea and the Sahara,
and built some of their grandest cities here.
Cyrene was a busy metropolis 500 years before Christ.
It had its own port, Apollonia.
Staggering sites, these, but totally deserted.
But then, the modern towns are deserted as well.
Is there some national emergency we've not been told about?
Is it National Stay Indoors Day? Where ARE all the Libyans?
Apart from our driver, everyone seems to have gone...
..and taken everything with them.
and despite the fact that there are big cities -
we've seen Tobruk and Benghazi and we're off to Tripoli -
Libya is largely desert, so it's picnic time in the desert.
My packed lunch is enormous. I can't tell what it is
because everything's in Arabic.
All the signs in Libya are in Arabic as well,
despite the fact that a lot of people speak English.
So it could be lunch, or a very large hat.
It is lunch! There we go.
A nice little well-sealed box here.
Everything's very typically Libyan...
..apart from cold chips.
The shortage of water is clearly a problem for Libya,
but Colonel Gadaffi has an impressive answer to it.
These huge concrete sections are for his man-made river project
to bring underground water
1,000 miles from the desert to the coast -
one of the most ambitious engineering schemes in the world.
1700 years ago, water was no problem.
This land was known as the bread basket of Rome,
rich enough from exports of wheat and oil
to boast North Africa's most magnificent city - Leptis Magna.
It gives off a powerful sense of the brute strength of Rome.
These halls were built by Septimus Severus,
an African who became Roman emperor and died in England.
It wasn't just Septimus that ended up in England.
In 1827, the ruler of Tripoli
sent 35 columns and other assorted features
as a present to King George IV.
A bit of Leptis Magna can still be found off the A329
near Virginia Water.
I'm told the amphitheatre at Leptis Magna
has the best acoustics in North Africa.
Let's find out.
(AS GEORGE FORMBY) # I'm leaning on the lamppost
# At the corner of the street
# Until a certain little lady comes by
# Oh, me, oh, my
# I hope that little lady passes by
# She's absolutely wonderful and absolutely marvellous
# And lots of people ask me just why
# I'm standing on the corner, on the corner of the street
# Until a certain little lady passes by! #
(MAN SHOUTS) Get off!
As we leave Libya,
I have the feeling that despite being generous hosts,
the Libyans are mistrustful of people with cameras.
This was never a problem in my next destination.
Less than 100 miles from the Libyan border,
we're in this arid, almost lunar landscape of southern Tunisia.
It's so arid and uncongenial, that for the last 700 years,
people have been living in caves under the ground.
Believe it or not, I do know this place.
I was crucified here 23 years ago for The Life of Brian.
I've always wanted to come back because it is so unforgettable -
and not many people can say
they've gone back to the place they were crucified!
I'm going to see what it's like.
The crosses are gone, but El-Hadej hasn't changed much.
It remains an underground town,
and though the authorities wish to move people into houses,
there are those who by tradition and inclination
prefer to live and work below the surface.
The older generation of troglodytes
can't see why they should have to move from their caves.
One answer is to cash in on the curiosity value
and become hoteliers.
- Bonjour. - Bonjour.
I'm Michael. Beautiful!
This is where you live. Your house!
Mmm, nice and silent and cut off from the world.
Do you have a room? Yes? OK, I'll see the room. Thank you.
In here? La? Merci. Après vous.
My host was very keen to point out
that living underground made very good sense
as the caves are warm in winter and cool in summer.
Mmm, I think tea's made.
(MAN AND WOMAN SPEAK ARABIC)
My own Arabic being limited, I rely on the one word I know
and repeat it as often as possible.
Merci. Thank you. Shoqlain.
My little Arabic that I know... Some peanuts as well.
Thank you. We've been right round the Sahara
and one thing that doesn't change is the tea,
and the method of making the tea.
It's been the same in every country we've been to,
from Morocco to Mali to Mauritania to Tunisia.
Shoqlain. Very nice.
(ERIC IDLE) Cheer up, Brian, you know what they say,
some things in life are bad.
They can really makeyou mad.
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle,
don'tgrumble, give a whistle...
# ..And this'll help things turn out for the best
# Always look on the bright side of life I
# Always look on the light side of life I
# Always look on the bright side of life I
# Always look on the bright side of lifeI #
In southern Tunisia where the desert meets the sea,
an offshore island called Djerba
hangs on to old traditions
as tenaciously as the troglodytes of El-Hadej.
In their case, it's catching octopus in Greek vases.
These men appear to be dressed by Dolce and Gabbana,
but their technique is pre-Roman.
The pots are strung out on a line,
and unfailingly, between November and March every year,
the octopus obligingly climb into them.
There it is! Wow!
Get back in there!
They're all over the place!
OK, well, there's two.
One's crawling up your leg, Nige!
Get back in!
I'm not much good at octopus wrangling,
but I'm learning!
Oh, my gosh!
How many are there?!
Getting them out of the sea's the easy bit -
keeping them on board's difficult.
They love these. They love living in these little urns.
Obviously, there's a synchronicity
between the octopus and the urn,
and here we are, ripping them out,
so I'm not having any more to do with this.
I'm going to start the Octopus Protection League!
Djerba claims to be the island of the lotus eaters
to which Ulysses and his weary sailors came
to be seduced by the narcotic delights of the lotus.
There's no lotus left,
but Djerba seduces thousands of foreigners every year.
Tourism is now the biggest business in Djerba.
I walk round the souk with El Hay,
who runs one of the better shops in town.
There were few tourists when he was a boy.
He now relies on them for 70 to 80 per cent of his business.
Do you think tourism can have a bad effect, an adverse effect?
Of course, yeah. It didn't bring only good things.
It brought a lot of money to Djerba,
- but we have other problems. - What sort of problems?
Well, we have a lot of...
Our young people change.
They are not practising their religion any more.
They are running after... I don't know...
- Seduced by the money? - Yeah, exactly.
We have this... I don't know if I want to talk about it.
We have this sex tourism. We have a lot of old ladies
coming here to find a young friend.
This is not good.
It's one of the bad sides.
You find sometimes some homosexuals.
You just go to the beach,
and you see that there are people waiting for an old lady.
We also have a lot of young people
who don't want to work because they have a...
I don't want to say.
But old ladies leave their husbands there
or they don't have a husband,
and they come here to find a friend here,
and so they pay him.
This is one of the bad sides of tourism.
Tunisia, lacking the oil reserves of Libya and Algeria,
has to do all it can to make tourists welcome.
They've been greatly helped by the Romans
who, at el-Djem, left behind the third-biggest amphitheatre
they ever built...
..whilst at Douga,
graceful temples overlook a purpose-built brothel,
and next door, a masterpiece of imperial plumbing!
The Romans weren't bashful about bodily functions.
This is a public lavatory in the truest sense of the word,
in that there are 12 little toilets here,
and it was a communal lavvy.
You went in - they were called furaci -
and you paid one ''ass'' to come in, which is a tiny coin,
and they would sit here, and it would be a group thing.
You'd discuss the weather, politics...
..acting, life, architecture, digestion,
and there'd be water running around this little runnel here,
so you could wash your hands there, bring the water up,
put your hand under there and wash the bits like that.
It was beautifully done. They used cold water, though,
so it must have been a freezing jobby here.
But, er...the Romans were oddly civilised
in sanitary ware, I think.
Not just Romans but Phoenicians, Turks, Greeks, even Normans
have all contributed to Tunisia's rich racial mix.
The most influential were the Arabs.
One of their great monuments is in Monastir, and the locals
never stop talking about the day Monty Python filmed here.
Believe it or not, the more comfortable parts of the filming
that weren't done on crosses happened here in Monastir.
This is the Rebat which is a very old building,
probably about 1300 years old, and this is where
most of the scenes of Life of Brian were done.
I'm just trying to remember it,
because it all looks very tidy and neat.
Yeah, it's coming back to me now. I think the stoning scene
where we were dressed up as...
Women were not allowed to go to stonings -
or was it only women? - so we all played women with beards.
RightI Who threw that?
- Come onI Who threw that?I - (HIGH VOICES) She did I
(DEEP VOICE) HimI HimI
- Was ityou? - (HIGH VOICE) YesI
Well, you did say '"Jehovah''I
Now this DOES bring it back!
The tower Graham Chapman ran up.
At the top, the stairs ran out,
and he's rescued by a flying saucer and goes on!
I think we must have just taken over this place entirely
for about two months, which seems unlikely.
Up there where those girls are coming down,
just above that, I think,
columns were built where Pontius Pilate came out
and the ''We-lease Wodder-wick''
and ''He wanks higher than any in Wome!'' was done up there.
It's difficult to tell because we added pillars and flags,
but I remember coming out above that bit.
..Wome isyour fwendI
A very strange and rather effective moment
where the power of Rome was challenged,
not by people fighting but by people laughing.
That's what moved me. Once people laughed at him,
there was nothing he could do.
Laughter's a very good weapon and not used enough.
As soon as they started screaming with laughter...
..then he got...
''ve-wee, ve-wee an-gwee'' and made a ''gwate fool'' of himself!
This man commands a cwack legionI
He wanks as high as any in WomeI
Along the coast from Monastir is the city of Sousse
in which Brian also came to life.
It seems strangely subdued today.
I remember the streets of the old town
as the liveliest in Tunisia. Now they're quiet as the grave.
They're already shutting up shop for the day.
I learn that it's the start of Ramadan, the one month each year
when Muslims are expected to fast during daylight hours.
Candy stalls do a roaring trade thanks to night-time feasts.
I've heard that people put on weight during the fasting -
now I understand why.
Tunisia likes to see itself as secular and outward-looking.
It's also the only Islamic country
in which it's not compulsory to observe Ramadan, but most do,
and with my friend Moes, I visit a café
to see how the country makes the most of the hours of darkness.
Moes orders a shisha,
which is a cigarette the size of a vacuum cleaner.
Charcoal heats honey-flavoured tobacco,
and the air is cooled by the water.
(MOES) Do you want to try it?
Yeah, very nice. It's very relaxing, isn't it?
Would you normally smoke this?
Sometimes, yeah, especially in Ramadan.
People, after eating and everything, they like to relax,
to have a cup of tea and to smoke the shisha.
Are you allowed to smoke during Ramadan during the day?
No water, no smoking, nothing in your mouth.
- Really? That's very hard! - Just air, you know, maybe.
What is the worst thing to be deprived of?
Is it water, is it food?
For me, it's water.
For some people, it's food. It depends.
Each person... Some people, smoking, too.
The hardest thing for them
is to stop smoking for 12 hours.
Does it make people bad-tempered?
Some people are bad-tempered,
but some people are not.
If they are bad-tempered, they are bad-tempered.
It's not Ramadan, but some people say,
''I am bad-tempered because it's Ramadan,'' but it's not true!
They're using it as an excuse.
Apart from the Arabs, most of those who invaded North Africa
stopped short of the Sahara.
The Romans never crossed it and another famous occupying empire
looked only towards the sea.
They were the Carthaginians, and their power base was here.
In fact, the station's called Carthage.
This is the start of my journey through to Algeria.
This is a local train which will take me to Tunis Nord,
the main station in Tunis from which I'll get the Trans-Maghreb Express.
(WOMEN LAUGH) Excuse me, I'm working!
The Trans-Maghreb Express goes to Algiers.
This line goes through wonderful stations - Carthage Amilcar,
Carthage Présidence, Carthage Hannibal - great name -
Carthage Dermech, Carthage Byrsa.
So five Carthage stations.
Whatever the Romans might think, Carthage is not destroyed!
I think when the Romans left Carthage,
they were so fed up with the Carthaginians attacking Rome
that they sowed the fields with salt so nothing would grow.
From the main station in Tunis,
it looks easy enough to continue my journey across North Africa
aboard the Trans-Maghreb Express.
The Arab word ''Maghreb''
means ''the lands of the setting sun'' - the lands of the west.
But there are problems ahead.
Tunisia is international, outward-looking,
and relatively stable.
Algeria, the country I'm going to,
has been caught in a spiral of violence since 1992.
Foreign Office advice is unequivocal.
''The security situation remains serious.
''We advise against all holiday and non-essential travel to Algeria.''
At first sight, Algiers seems like any other modern city.
The trains seem to be on time,
there are no porters at the station,
and my hotel, the el-Djezair, is rather grand.
Formerly called the St George, it was built in the 1880s
for fashionable Victorians who flocked to Algiers
to benefit from the healthy climate.
No one flocks to Algiers any more, and I have a bodyguard.
(MAN) Beyond the hotel,
we will be required to travel around Algiers with a team of...
This is Eamonn, and he's an ex-Marine commando.
(EAMONN) The reason we need this security in place
is that since 1992,
foreigners in Algeria have been under fatwa
by certain extreme Islamic groups.
(MICHAEL) Really? Fatwa - the same as in the Salman Rushdie case?
(EAMONN) The Satanic Verses, yeah.
The result is that over 100 foreigners
have been killed in Algeria.
I've travelled quite a bit,
and as far as I know, no one's ever tried to kill me!
I ask Eamonn if this is all strictly necessary.
It is. You're a public figure with a high profile,
and if I lose you, I lose my job!
(MICHAEL) Well, I hope we won't be a problem.
Out on the streets, you could be in Lyon or Marseilles.
For 100 years, the French treated Algeria not as a colony
but as a part of France.
As a result, the independence movement
was resisted more fiercely here than anywhere in North Africa.
Said Chitour, a local journalist,
is proud of the fight his people put up,
and takes me to what was the centre of the struggle,
the ancient heart of Algiers - the Casbah.
As the streets of the Casbah
are still a flash point for violent protest,
the local police, known as the Casbah Cops,
have thrown a discreet cordon around the area for our visit.
So successful is this precaution,
that there's absolutely no one about,
and even when someone appears,
he's a local policeman, regrouping,
but they can't keep out the ghosts of old heroes.
Ali La Pointe was one of the resistance fighters against the French.
He was in the film The Battle of Algiers.
- Did he live here? - He lived here
with his friends like Hassiba BenBouali,
and all those freedom fighters.
He was a hero of the Casbah and the Battle of Algiers.
Was the resistance centred on the Casbah?
- Yes. - So it was pretty difficult
for the French to get the revolutionaries out of here.
Very difficult because it's roof to roof, house to house,
and the people can jump from roof to roof.
This is the memorial plate
in memory of Ali La Pointe.
What does it say, Said?
''In October 8th, 1957,
''Ali La Pointe, with his companions,
''spent all day resisting the French paratroopers
''of Bijar and Massoud.
''The French army decided to blow up the house.
''He didn't want to give up, and he died.''
(MICHAEL) That's the scene in the film
where they give them the chance to come out.
They decided to stay in, and then they blew the place up.
What do you think Ali La Pointe and these people achieved?
Freedom. Independence for us -
for the generation who are coming after 1962.
Now this place became a kind of centre -
a training centre for young girls of the Casbah
to teach them how to make a good couscous.
Couscous? From the sublime to the ridiculous!
(CHANTING AND MUSIC) The Casbah's coming to life.
I begin to forget security and enjoy myself.
There's lots of character to these claustrophobic alleyways.
(MICHAEL LAUGHS) They think we're crazy!
(SAID) She's a funny girl.
Said shows me some of the Casbah's hidden gems,
like the mosque of Sidi Abd er-Rahman.
He was a 15th-century holy man and patron saint of the city.
A visit to his tomb is said to be very effective for women.
Some women pray in here for Allah
to be merciful -
''Allah, bless us'' -
and to give us rain because in Algiers there is no more water.
Ironically, the prayers worked only too well.
Within two weeks of our visit,
hundreds were drowned
in Algeria's worst flooding for years.
By Saharan standards, those who live in Algiers look prosperous.
The oilfields see to it that the street markets are well stocked.
Look at the size of those brassieres! Goodness me!
You could get a couple of footballs in there!
I might just pick up a couple.
Next morning, it's time to leave Algiers la Blanche -
the White City, as the French called it.
There's a train that goes west to Oran.
I've heard the line is dangerous so I seek professional advice.
Is it OK to travel? I know there are security problems.
Security is not a problem in the train.
You can go to Oran.
Security is not a problem for you.
- OK? - OK. That's good.
You speak English so well!
Is this something they teach you on Algerian Railways?
It's English of school,
but when you like a language, you practise it very good.
What is your job here?
My job is master of the station.
Not station mistress.
Yeah, I'm the first lady in Algeria,
in the stations of Algeria.
This is very clean, I notice. Absolutely tidy.
Yes, it's a woman who is master!
(MICHAEL) And it's a policeman who is following us!
The train is leaving and it's time to say farewell to Said,
who's shown me that, despite the dire warnings,
the people of Algiers could not have made us feel more welcome.
- Michael, have a good trip. - Thanks for everything.
- We'll see you soon. - Inshallah. Bye.
As we pull out, everything looks normal enough,
but in Algeria, it's never wise to be complacent.
The Algiers-Oran line DOES have a history,
and I'm certainly not allowed to ride it unprotected.
Is that OK?
Is there a security problem on this line?
Yes, there is, and there has been over the last ten years.
This is an area to the south of Algiers
Known as ''The triangle of death''.
We're approaching Blida,
and this has been the most bombed railway line in the world
over the last ten years.
Do people attack the train, ambush?
Yes, this train has been bombed,
it has been stopped by people coming onto the train
and pulling the communication cord,
which is why there's no communication cord on the train.
Really? What was the problem?
Well, you'd get confederates of terrorist groups
who'd come onto the train masquerading as passengers.
They'd pull the communication cord, the train would stop
and the terrorists would come onto the train
and commit acts of cruelty and barbarism.
What, they'd take people's lives on the train?
Yes, they would, in awful circumstances
that we really don't want to go into.
Now, however, over the last two years,
you will find as you are going along
there is a major security presence,
and you will not really run the same risk,
or so we're told.
Yeah, but you don't see many foreigners on a line like this.
No, you're probably the first foreigner
to pass along this line in the last ten years.
(MICHAEL) Well, so far it seems to be fine.
The train left on time,
everyone was very friendly,
even the countryside is like farmland.
I don't want to put people off coming to Algeria,
because we've had no problems. People have been very friendly.
I know we've been guarded by you and other people,
but I don't feel there's been any hostility.
No, there's no hostility from the general population.
They're a very welcoming people as you've seen.
Even at Chlef, where violence has been rife,
there is an unthreatening air of ordinariness,
but the hard fact remains that in the last ten years of terror,
100,000 people have been killed.
One thing you won't be able to see on our journey
is the presence of the armed guards.
They have quite a heavy security presence,
both from Algiers and a town called Chlef where we stopped.
They changed the guard round
and 18 members of the Gendarmerie Nationale
armed with AK47s came aboard to look after us.
It's dangerous for them to be filmed,
but the train is bristling with guards looking after us.
- Merci, monsieur. - Merci.
The train used to be exotically known
as the Algiers-Casablanca Express,
but tensions between Algeria and Morocco over security
have closed the railway border,
and now the train terminates at Oran.
The army can go home. I'm someone else's responsibility.
- Great station! - Beautiful.
Is Oran an important city?
(EAMONN) Yes, it's the second city of Algeria.
Now, where do we head? Off down here?
Yeah, into the centre of town.
Oran, like Algiers, is still steeped in French influence.
Bare-breasted northern maidens gaze down from the opera house.
Nearby, a carved likeness of Arab nationalist hero,
The confusion reflects my own feelings
as I near the end of the journey.
This is the last big city on my journey,
and you can't get much further west in Algeria than this,
so I've got to think hard about how I'm going to get back home.
I'm able to bypass the closed border with Morocco
by taking a roundabout ferry route into Ceuta.
From there it should be easy enough
to get back across the Straits to Europe.
Ceuta is a curiosity. It's a slice of Spanish territory
clinging to the coast of Africa. It's surrounded by Morocco,
and just as the Spanish want Gibraltar,
the Moroccans would rather like Ceuta,
but there's no sign of Spain parting with it.
Indeed, this lovingly preserved monument
commemorates a Spanish invasion of Morocco.
The Spanish presence makes Ceuta a magnet
for those wanting to get out of Africa.
High on a hill above the town
is one of the outlying defences of Fortress Europe,
a holding centre for immigrants,
built and run by the European Union.
It's bright, clean and modern, and people can't wait to leave.
There are nearly 400 men, women and children in the centre,
but only 45 applications have been processed in the last six months.
The inmates are restless, some are desperate,
but they're not giving up - not after the risks they've taken.
Where have you come from?
- From Nigeria. - And how did you get here?
Through the Sahara Desert.
- On a vehicle? - With leg.
On foot? You walked through the Sahara?
- How long did that take? - It take me almost one year.
How did you get here, into Ceuta?
I passed through Sahara,
get to Morocco, from Morocco I come to this place.
How did you get here from Morocco? This is a fortress.
I passed through the barbed wire,
through the barbed wire with the fishing boat.
I came by the boat.
You came by boat and that brings you up onto the shore here?
- Yeah. - Did you have to pay somebody?
Yeah, for the boat we pay about 1,500...
1,500 dollars? U.S. dollars?
At the narrowest point of the Straits of Gibraltar,
only nine miles separate these people from their goal.
I'm lucky. I can cross the Straits in an hour,
on a scheduled ferry in broad daylight,
but thousands of Africans will pay good money
to be brought over on unsuitable boats at dead of night.
Belinda Braithwaite, who has a house close to where they land,
knows that many will never reach the beaches of Europe alive.
(BELINDA) They cross when it's calm in the middle of the night,
but with the Straits, you can suddenly get a squall,
and they've got too many people in the boat,
none of them can swim and they don't have any life-jackets,
and so the boat capsizes,
and the poor things are thrown into the sea.
Do they have any sort of navigation?
Do they have to come along here with no lights?
- Is it always at night? - It's always at night.
Some of the worst casualties happen when it's a foggy night,
because it would appear that some unscrupulous skippers
say, ''It's 200 yards over there, jump out here.''
I fact, it's more like a mile,
so the poor people are out of their depth and can't swim.
Imagine if you're a pregnant woman
thrown over the side of a boat, and don't stand a chance.
And when they do get ashore... I mean, this is...
The boat must have gone against the rocks. There's holes in it.
What happens when they get to the shore?
They scatter quickly and disappear into the pine forest,
but, obviously, if they've just got out of a boat
or maybe had to swim the last bit,
their clothes are sopping wet,
and they tend to bring a little...
- There you are. - Is that off a boat?
Well, it looks remarkably like it's been bound up
to keep it waterproof,
and they would then keep some dry clothes in there.
Here you've got the fellow's clothes that he's taken off.
They take them off because they're sodden?
Yeah. He's got shoes and bits and pieces and his water bottle.
That's someone from Morocco, Mali...
And then he'll just quickly get away before he's spotted.
So there are clothes all over these dunes?
What amazes me is that sometimes I come across them miles out.
When at last I reach Gibraltar, the flags are flying,
and day trippers fill the streets,
but there's something different in the air,
a smell of betrayal.
Your Excellency, may I have your leave to secure the fortress?
After nearly 300 years, the unthinkable is happening.
Britain and Spain are discussing joint sovereignty.
(MAN SHOUTS) Who goes there?
- The keys! - Whose keys?
Queen Elizabeth's keys.
Advance, Queen Elizabeth's keys.
The Ceremony of the Keys dates back
to when the gates of the citadel
were locked every night.
The fortress is secure and all is well, sir.
But how secure IS the fortress?
Suddenly, this harmless ceremony seems loaded with significance.
It's more than just an entertainment.
Will the gates of Gibraltar have to be locked again?
When I set out, I saw Gibraltar
as the bridge between Europe and Africa,
but now I've finished the journey,
what's more important for the future
is that the Sahara is the bridge from Africa into Europe.
There is a danger in becoming obsessed with our own security.
Locking out the enemies at the gate,
may only create more enemies.
The best hope for the future is to look around the gate,
to find out more not less of how other people live.
After all, this time a year ago, I thought the Sahara was empty!
SNL Best Of Eddie Murphy 1998
S Diary 2004
Sahara (with Michael Palin) ep1
Sahara (with Michael Palin) ep2
Sahara (with Michael Palin) ep3
Sahara (with Michael Palin) ep4
Sahara (with Michael Palin) video diary bonus
Sahara interview with Michael Palin
Salaam Bombay CD1
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Salaam Cinema 1995
Salems Lot 2004 CD1
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Salesman - Albert and David Maysles (1969)
Salo Or The 120 Days Of Sodom
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Samsara 1991 CD1
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Samurai - Miyamoto Musashi - 03 - Duel at Ganryu Island
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Samurai Assassin 1965
Sanbiki No Samurai 1964
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Sands of Iwo Jima
Santa Claus 2
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Satans Brew 1976
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Satyajit Ray - Apu Trilogy 2 Aparajito (1957)
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Say It Isnt So 2001
Scalphunters The (1968)
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Scarecrow - (Kakashi) 25fps 2001
Scarlet Empress The (1934)
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Secret Agents 2004
Secret Agents Into the Heart of the CIA
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Sex and Lucia (Unrated Spanish Edition)
Sex and Zen
Sex and the City 3x13 - Escape From New York
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Sex lives of the potato men
Sexo Con Amor 2003
Sexy Beast 2000
Shadow The Universal
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Shakespeare In Love
Shall We Dance
Shanghai Knights CD1
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Shaolin Soccer UnCut (2001) CD1
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Sharp Guns (2001)
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Sherlock Holmes - Hound of the Baskervilles
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Sherlock Holmes - The Pearl Of Death 1944
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Sherlock Holmes 1x01 - A Scandal In Bohemia
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Sherlock Holmes And The House Of Fear 1945
Sherlock Holmes And The Spider Woman 1944
Sherlock Holmes And The Voice Of Terror 1942
Sherlock Holmes Faces Death 1943
Sherlock Holmes Returns
Sherlock Holmes The Eligible Bachelor
Sherlock Holmes The Scarlet Claw 1944
Sherlock Holmes in Washington 1943
Shes All That
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Shield The 2x01 - The Quick Fix
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Shijushichinin No Shikaku (1994 aka 47 Ronin)
Shiki-Jitsu (Hideaki Anno 2000)
Shin Zatoichi monogatari (1963)
Shinjuku - Triad Society (Takashi Miike 1995) CD1
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Ship of Fools CD1 (Stanley Kramer 1965)
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Shiver Of The Vampires The
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Shogun 1980 Part 1
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Shogun 1980 Part 3
Shogun 1980 Part 4
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Shop Around The Corner The 1940
Short Circuit 2
Short Cuts CD1
Short Cuts CD2
Short Film About Killing A (1988)
Short Film About Love A (1988)
Short Film About Love A 1988
Shot In The Dark A
Show Me Love
Shredder (Greg Huson 2003)
Shriek if You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th
Shuang tong (2002)
Sib - The Apple
Siburay Bate Cafe
Sicilian The 1987 CD1
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Siege The (1998)
Silence of the Lambs The
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Silent Trigger 1996
Silver Streak 1976
Simon and Garfunkel - The Concert in Central Park
Simon of the Desert
Simpsons 01x01 - Simpsons Roasting Over An Open Fire
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Simpsons 01x03 - Homers Odyssey
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Simpsons 01x06 - Moaning Lisa
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Simpsons 01x08 - The Telltale Head
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Simpsons 01x10 - Homers Night Out
Simpsons 01x11 - The Crepes Of Wrath
Simpsons 01x12 - Krusty Gets Busted
Simpsons 01x13 - Some Enchanted Evening
Simpsons The 05x01 - Homers Barbershop Quartet
Simpsons The 05x02 - Cape Feare
Simpsons The 05x03 - Homer Goes To College
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Simpsons The 05x06 - Marge On The Lam
Simpsons The 05x07 - Barts Inner Child
Simpsons The 05x08 - Boy Scoutz N The Hood
Simpsons The 05x09 - The Last-Temptation Of Homer
Simpsons The 05x10 - $pringfield
Simpsons The 05x11 - Homer The Vigilante
Simpsons The 05x12 - Bart Gets Famous
Simpsons The 05x13 - Homer And Apu
Simpsons The 05x14 - Lisa Vs Malibu Stacy
Simpsons The 05x15 - Deep Space Homer
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Simpsons The 05x17 - Bart Gets An Elephant
Simpsons The 05x18 - Burns Heir
Simpsons The 05x19 - Sweet Seymour Skinners Baadasssss Song
Simpsons The 05x20 - The Boy Who Knew Too Much
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Sin noticias de Dios
Sinbad - Legend Of The Seven Seas
Since Otar Left 2003
Since You Went Away CD1
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Sinful Nuns of Saint Valentine
Singin in the Rain
Singing Detective The
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Sink The Bismarck
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Six Days Seven Nights
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Six Feet Under
Six String Samurai
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Sixteen Candles CD1
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Sixth Sense The
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Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Slap Shot 2
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Sleepless in Seattle
Sleepy Hollow 1999
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Sliding Doors 1992
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Small Change (FranÇois Truffaut 1976)
Small Time Crooks 2000
Smell of Fear The
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Snake Of June A (2002)
Snake Pit The
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Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs 1937
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Sobibor 14 Octobre 1943
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Soldiers Story A (Norman Jewison 1984)
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Sombre 25fps 1998
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Something The Lord Made CD1
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Somethings Gotta Give CD1
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Son In Law
Song of the South
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Soul Keeper The (2003)
Sound of Music The
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Soylent Green 1973
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Spark the Lighter
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Spartacus Fixed 1960
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Spawn (Directors Cut)
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Speed 2 - Cruise Control
Spellbound (Hitchcock 1945)
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Spies Like Us 1985
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Spongebob Squarepants The Movie
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Stage Beauty 2004
Stage Fright 1950
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Stargate SG1 1x01 Children of the Gods
Stargate SG1 1x02 The enemy Within
Stargate SG1 1x03 Emancipation
Stargate SG1 1x04 The Broca Divide
Stargate SG1 1x05 The First Commandment
Stargate SG1 1x06 Cold Lazarus
Stargate SG1 1x07 The Nox
Stargate SG1 1x08 Brief Candle
Stargate SG1 1x09 Thors Hammer
Stargate SG1 1x10 The Torment of Tantalus
Stargate SG1 1x11 Bloodlines
Stargate SG1 1x12 Fire and Water
Stargate SG1 1x13 Hathor
Stargate SG1 1x14 Singularity
Stargate SG1 1x15 The Cor AI
Stargate SG1 1x16 Enigma
Stargate SG1 1x17 Solitudes
Stargate SG1 1x18 Tin Man
Stargate SG1 1x19 There but for the Grace of God
Stargate SG1 1x20 Politics
Stargate SG1 1x21 Within the Serpents Grasp
Stargate SG1 2x01 The serpents lair
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Stargate SG1 2x03 Prisoners
Stargate SG1 2x04 The gamekeeper
Stargate SG1 2x05 Need
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Stargate SG1 2x11 The tokra part 1
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Stargate SG1 2x13 Spirits
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Stargate SG1 2x20 Show and tell
Stargate SG1 2x21 1969
Stargate SG1 3x01 Into The Fire II
Stargate SG1 3x02 Seth
Stargate SG1 3x03 Fair Game
Stargate SG1 3x04 Legacy
Stargate SG1 3x05 Learning Curve
Stargate SG1 3x06 Point Of View
Stargate SG1 3x07 Deadman Switch
Stargate SG1 3x08 Demons
Stargate SG1 3x09 Rules Of Engagement
Stargate SG1 3x10 Forever In A Day
Stargate SG1 3x11 Past And Present
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Stargate SG1 3x13 The Devil You Know
Stargate SG1 3x14 Foothold
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Stargate SG1 3x16 Urgo
Stargate SG1 3x17 A Hundred Days
Stargate SG1 3x18 Shades Of Grey
Stargate SG1 3x19 New Ground
Stargate SG1 3x20 Maternal Instinct
Stargate SG1 3x21 Crystal Skull
Stargate SG1 3x22 Nemesis
Stargate SG1 4x01 Small Victories
Stargate SG1 4x02 The Other Side
Stargate SG1 4x03 Upgrades
Stargate SG1 4x04 Crossroads
Stargate SG1 4x05 Divide And Conquer
Stargate SG1 4x06 Window Of Opportunity
Stargate SG1 4x07 Watergate
Stargate SG1 4x08 The First Ones
Stargate SG1 4x09 Scorched Earth
Stargate SG1 4x10 Beneath The Surface
Stargate SG1 4x11 Point Of No Return
Stargate SG1 4x12 Tangent
Stargate SG1 4x13 The Curse
Stargate SG1 4x14 The Serpents Venom
Stargate SG1 4x15 Chain Reaction
Stargate SG1 4x16 2010
Stargate SG1 4x17 Absolute Power
Stargate SG1 4x18 The Light
Stargate SG1 4x19 Prodigy
Stargate SG1 4x20 Entity
Stargate SG1 4x21 Double Jeopardy
Stargate SG1 4x22 Exodus
Stargate SG1 5x01 Enemies
Stargate SG1 5x02 Threshold
Stargate SG1 5x03 Ascension
Stargate SG1 5x04 Fifth Man
Stargate SG1 5x05 Red Sky
Stargate SG1 5x06 Rite Of Passage
Stargate SG1 5x07 Beast Of Burden
Stargate SG1 5x08 The Tomb
Stargate SG1 5x09 Between Two Fires
Stargate SG1 5x10 2001
Stargate SG1 5x11 Desperate Measures
Stargate SG1 5x12 Wormhole X-Treme
Stargate SG1 5x13 Proving Ground
Stargate SG1 5x14 48 Hours
Stargate SG1 5x15 Summit
Stargate SG1 5x16 Last Stand
Stargate SG1 5x17 Failsafe
Stargate SG1 5x18 The Warrior
Stargate SG1 5x19 Menace
Stargate SG1 5x20 The Sentinel
Stargate SG1 5x21 Meridian
Stargate SG1 5x22 Revelations
Stargate SG1 6x01 Redemption Part 1
Stargate SG1 6x02 Redemption Part 2
Stargate SG1 6x03 Descent
Stargate SG1 6x04 Frozen
Stargate SG1 6x05 Nightwalkers
Stargate SG1 6x06 Abyss
Stargate SG1 6x07 Shadow Play
Stargate SG1 6x08 The Other Guys
Stargate SG1 6x09 Allegiance
Stargate SG1 6x10 Cure
Stargate SG1 6x11 Prometheus
Stargate SG1 6x12 Unnatural Selection
Stargate SG1 6x13 Sight Unseen
Stargate SG1 6x14 Smoke n Mirrors
Stargate SG1 6x15 Paradise Lost
Stargate SG1 6x16 Metamorphosis
Stargate SG1 6x17 Disclosure
Stargate SG1 6x18 Forsaken
Stargate SG1 6x19 The Changeling
Stargate SG1 6x20 Memento
Stargate SG1 6x21 Prophecy
Stargate SG1 6x22 Full Circle
Stargate SG1 7x01 Fallen
Stargate SG1 7x02 Homecoming
Stargate SG1 7x03 Fragile Balance
Stargate SG1 7x04 Orpheus
Stargate SG1 7x05 Revisions
Stargate SG1 7x06 Lifeboat
Stargate SG1 7x07 Enemy Mine
Stargate SG1 7x08 Space Race
Stargate SG1 7x09 Avenger 2 0
Stargate SG1 7x10 Birthright
Stargate SG1 7x10 Heroes II
Stargate SG1 7x11 Evolution I
Stargate SG1 7x12 Evolution II
Stargate SG1 7x13 Grace
Stargate SG1 7x14 Fallout
Stargate SG1 7x15 Chimera
Stargate SG1 7x16 Death Knell
Stargate SG1 7x17 Heroes I
Stargate SG1 7x19 Resurrection
Stargate SG1 7x20 Inauguration
Stargate SG1 7x21-22 The Lost City I n II
Starship Troopers (Special Edition)
Starship Troopers 2
Story Of A Kiss
Strange aventure de Docteur Molyneux
Street Of Love And Hope (Nagisa Oshima 1959)
Street of shame (Akasen chitai)
Streetcar Named Desire A
Summer Tale A 2000
Sunday Lunch (2003)
Super 8 Stories
Superman IV - The Quest for Peace
Surviving the Game
Swedish Love Story A (1970) CD1
Swedish Love Story A (1970) CD2
Sweetest Thing The (Unrated Version)
Swordsman III - The East is Red
Sylvester - Canned Feud (1951)
Sylvester - Speedy Gonzales (1955)
Sylvester and Elmer - Kit for Cat (1948)
Sylvester and Porky - Scaredy Cat (1948)
Sylvester and Tweety - Canary Row (1950)
Sylvester and Tweety - Putty Tat Trouble (1951)
Sylvester and Tweety - Tweetys SOS (1951)