Learn Italian in Song: Sandokan


as sung by… Claudio Baglioni???

I noticed that someone had ended up on my site while searching for these lyrics. Sandokan, the Tiger of Malaysia, is an old favorte of mine, so I’m happy to fill this gap.The video above is a montage that gives you an idea what the TV show was like, using the song as recorded for the show. Below you’ll find a sing-along version!It’s not a great song in any way, but the show and song are fondly remembered by many (including me, though I saw it in later re-airings).
Piu’ crudele e’ la guerra Crueler is war
e l’uomo sa cos’e’ la guerra And a man knows what is war
Caldo e tenero e’ l’amore Warm and tender is love
e l’uomo sa cos’e’ l’amore And a man knows what is love
Giu’ dal cielo scende un tuono A thunderbolt descends from heaven
tutto intorno un grande suono All around there’s a great sound
nasce il seme dalla pianta The seed is born from the plant
il grande albero adesso canta The great tree now sings
ritornello: refrain:
Corre il sangue nelle vene Blood runs in the veins
grande vento nella notte calda si alzera’ A great wind will rise in the hot night
Sandokan Sandokan, Sandokan, Sandokan
giallo e’ il sole la forza mi da’ The sun is yellow, it gives me strength
Sandokan Sandokan, Sandokan, Sandokan
dammi forza e ogni giorno ogni notte coraggio verra’ Give me strength, and every day, every night courage will come.
La conchiglia suona piano The seashell sounds softly
il mare ormai e’ gia’  lontano The sea is now far away
Sale e scende la marea The tide rises and falls
che tutto copre e tutto crea Which covers all and creates all.
buy the version by this group:
Oliver Onions - Oliver Onions - Sandokan

And the TV original:

Sandokan – an Italian Children’s Classic

We saw Pirates of the Caribbean in Italian, though I felt it lost something in translation. But it was fun, pretty much what you’d expect from a movie developed from an amusement park ride. And it reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write about Sandokan.

Sandokan, a character created in 1883 by an imaginative but completely untravelled Italian named Emilio Salgari, is a Malaysian prince, deposed by the British and Dutch colonialists who have taken over his country. Unable to reclaim his throne, “the Tiger of Malaysia” takes to piracy, harassing the colonialists, along with his fearless band of seamen and his Portugese sidekick, Yanez.

I find very amusing the reversal on typical colonial literature of the period: here the baddies are the white men, such as the real historical character, James Brooke, the “White Rajah of Borneo.”

Salgari wrote over 80 novels, stories of adventure set in exotic lands from Malaysia to India to the Caribbean. His work enjoyed periods of great popularity in many languages and countries, but has only very recently begun to be translated into English. For those who read Italian, some works are available for download.

Sandokan was made into several TV miniseries in Italy in the 1970s, starring Kabir Bedi, a half-Indian half-Italian actor. Rather too tall for a Malaysian, but awfully handsome, so who’s complaining? Besides, the Englishman James Brooke was played by an Italian (who also once or twice played James’ Bond’s nemesis Blomfeld), and Yanez the Portugese by a Frenchman, and since the series was apparently shot in India, all the “Malaysians” must be Indian. Oh, well. Inaccuracies notwithstanding,the series is fun, and is available on DVD.

Pictures etc. from the TV series

learn the song!

Salgari was never high literature, and even in the original Italian the writing is a bit clumsy (how many times in one paragraph can you use the word cupo – dark?). You read these for the grand adventure tales they are, so, if that’s what floats your boat, I do recommend them – and now two of them are available in English:

Nov 24, 2007

The kind people at ROH Press wrote to let me know:

“ROH Press has just released a new modern translation of The Tigers of Mompracem. You can read sample chapters on our website.

Next year marks Sandokan’s 125th anniversary so we’ve also issued The Pirates of Malaysia  and The Two Tigers.”