Waiting for the Barbarians is a film adaptation of South African-born Australian novelist and Nobel laureate John Maxwell Coetzee. As in the novel of the same name, the film's events occur in a small town located on the border of the unnamed Empire. It should be immediately clear that the Empire is not a concrete state, but rather an abstract designation of a powerful sovereign ruler who colonized lands that belonged to other people. The main enemies of the Empire are nomads called barbarians.
Life on the border is calm and peaceful, so there is not even a small prison for criminals in the village. City affairs are run by an unnamed hero who holds the magistrate's office (Mark Rylance). He will meet Colonel Joll (Johnny Depp), who has arrived to prevent the barbarians' invasion. The colonel proves himself to be a master of interrogations, using sophisticated torture on the nomads. Having become attached to one of the victims, the magistrate suddenly begins to realize the true essence of the Empire's regime.
The film's main shooting took place in Italy, as well as in Morocco, which made it possible to shoot panoramas of the sandy desert.
The script was specially adapted for the film by the author of Waiting for the Barbarians. The writer left a considerable part of the book dialogues, ignoring the fact that the text's perception may differ from the attempt to recreate it on the set.
It ended up with an important story of invaders claiming to be rulers. All the same frightening truth that the punishers need the named enemy to strengthen their positions. And all the same unsightly essence of torturers, not feeling a pang of guilt. But because of the monotony of the film, it can be a bit boring to watch.