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
Two/three weeks into shooting, cinematographer James Wong Howe left the project. Due to disagreement with director John Frankenheimer over use of lens. See more »
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 »
What demon has possessed you to mock these good people with that piece of dog-bait?
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This is a human condition action adventure that takes place in modern time( meaning 1971) Afghanistan. The film starts by showing how far back in time they are. Everybody is riding around on horses while planes are driving above them. In this country a proud (the best word would be prince but it doesn't exactly fit) Uraz (played by Omar Sharif, mostly known as that guy who had the lead in Doctor Zhivago) sets out to this weird horse tournament on the request of his father, a elderly clan leader and master of the sport played by the great Jack Palance.
It's made obvious from the start that though this man might be proud and even quite noble (he always bets on the weakest), he is in fact cruel to servants and have a rather nihilistic view on life. When he manages to fall off his horse and break his leg he feels a great dishonor and sets out to find the hardest and deadliest road home. On the way everything that is good in humans are questioned! The film has a very different view of the world than most others, at least this early in cinema. Many of the characters are so shady it will almost make you sick. I must say that I did not like these people as humans, though I did like their characters, inhuman behavior and cruelty is something I take a huge interest in. For those of you who enjoy to travel to different worlds and can enjoy and love films even if they perhaps have a different stand than your world view, this is the film for you.
I was quite taken by it I must say. My second favorite Frankenheimer picture to date, meaning that I thought it was better than great films such as The Manchurian Candidate, The Train and Seven Days in May. The colors are great and the mood and pacing is very intense. Most of the frames are quite beautiful. The acting is very good! And it's philosophy as a whole is rather good too but I will not give away anything about how this film turns out but I will say that I thought it was fabulous. A genius film! A masterpiece! You should definitely check it out. A true gem!
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