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 ... See full summary »
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Penelope Ann Miller,
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
This is an example of taking a book and adapting it to the large screen and realising with hindsight that it works better as a book . I'm not familiar with Joseph Kessel's original novel but the comments on this page state that the film is very faithful to the book and that might be the problem . It's a story that concentrates on obsession at winning at all costs and Uraz the protagonist is a universal metaphor for all mankind that when you want to win something it can cost you very dearly
You can perhaps see why the producers thought this would make a great film with its exotic locations and the fact it was st in Afghanistan before the land reforms the mid 1970s that led to civil war and the subsequent Soviet intervention is what made me seek out the film if only to understand Afghan culture better and the film does contain an intelligent opening when the audience are led to believe they're watching a scene from the 17th Century only to the Afghan rug pulled from under their feet as a jet plane screams over head . Likewise there's some spectacular scenes involving the sport of buzkashi where horsemen literally fight over the carcass of a dead goat and there's some impressive cinematography featuring the Afghan landscape but the inherent problem with the film is the character driven narrative which doesn't kindly lend itself to the medium of cinema
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