In the poor, desolate northern provinces of the mountainous feudal Sunni kingdom of Afghanistan (before the Soviet-engineered republican revolutions), the status of the proud men and their ...
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In the poor, desolate northern provinces of the mountainous feudal Sunni kingdom of Afghanistan (before the Soviet-engineered republican revolutions), the status of the proud men and their clans is determined less by wealth or even military power (both rare) then by victories in the ancient, though game of buskashi, a vicious form of polo dating back to Genghis Khan, in which the chapendaz (participating horsemen) use their horse-whips on both mounts and rivals in a ruthless fight for a heavy 'ball', a dead calf, which must be carried a long way, almost impossible with all the others mercilessly assailing. Tursen, a former champion, now holds the status of village notable thanks to his position as stable-keeper of the regional lord Osman Bey, and has finally bred a horse without equal, the white stallion Jahil, in time for the royal tournament on the plain of Bagrami, just outside the capital Kabul. As Tursen is too old and has a crooked leg, his son Uraz, even prouder and with a ... Written by
When Tursen (Jack Palance) has a flashback to one of his past victories, one can tell that he is swinging a phony, lightweight, stuffed goat carcass around when his horse jumps up on the mud hut. See more »
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An underrated Masterpiece - entertaining AND Educational.
There is so much of interest in this compelling film, set in Afghanistan. Based on the book by Joseph Kessells, a writer of rare insight.
Centered around the ancient game of Buzkashi, played on horseback, and only in the three northern provinces of Mazar-i-Sharif, Maimana and Kataghan. [The game had it's origin in a training routine instituted by Ghengiz Khan, which both conditioned his men for warfare and provided a means of feeding his army. A very large circle was formed by his warriors and as the circle closed no animal was permitted to escape.]
There are some terrific scenes of the first "Royal Buzkashi" played on Bagrami Plain, just outside Kabul, which had been decreed by the king. Also some great footage of the country, depicting the beautiful and varied terrain encountered as Uroz makes the self-imposed and dangerous journey back to his home province in the North.
The interplay of all the characters is an education in understanding the powerful role human emotion and upbringing play in all our lives, as both Tursen(the father) and Uroz(the son) attempt to come to terms with their own harsh anger and pride. The consequences spill over and embroil other individuals in the story. The story also gives some insight into the different way of thinking engendered by the cultural mix of religion,relatively isolated living, and living in a harsh environment where survival can be pretty raw.
Contrast is drawn by the mix of ancient and modern. One such scene has Tursen (Jack Palance),who as Head of Osman Bey's stable is addressing the chopendoz,(players of Buzkashi), pauses to look upwards at a jetliner passing overhead whilst he stands on "The Roof of the World". Another takes place in the modern hospital in Kabul.
Both Palance & Sharif give of their finest, very well supported by a great character cast.
A dramatic part of the story unfolds in the Bamian Valley, where Uroz gambles & loses the very thing he later realise he loves and wants back. Historically this part of the film contains important footage of the giant Budhas that were carved into the cliffside, until deliberately destroyed by Talliban militia.
All in all, an excellent and enjoyable film and I am surprised it has not been shown on Television or re-issued on disc, as the world focussed on that area just a short time ago.
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