In 1939, the author Annemarie Schwarzenbach and the ethnologist Ella Maillart travel together by car to Kabul, but each is in pursuit of her own project. Annemarie Schwarzenbach, who was ... See full summary »
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In 1939, the author Annemarie Schwarzenbach and the ethnologist Ella Maillart travel together by car to Kabul, but each is in pursuit of her own project. Annemarie Schwarzenbach, who was among Erika and Klaus Mann's circle of friends in the 30s, is searching for a place of refuge in the Near East to discover her own self. Ella Maillart justifies her restlessness, her need for movement and travel, with a scientific pretext: she would like to explore the mysterious Kafiristan Valley and make a name for herself with publications on the archaic life of the nomads living there. Both women are on the run, but political developments and their own biographies catch up with them again and again. Their mutual journey through the outside world, which runs from Geneva via the Balkans and Turkey to Persia, is compounded by the inner world of emotions with a tender love story. Written by
All the reviews I read before seeing this were maddeningly vague as if the writers were trying desperately not to commit themselves. I can't see their problem, 'Journey to Kafiristan' is an outstanding film with two excellent performances from the leads; the cinematography is jawdroppingly good with the landscapes, interiors and close-ups all adding to the poignancy of the narrative; the music is astonishingly unobtrusive yet contributes to the mood and pace of the film. At the centre there is the performance of Jeanette Hain whose extraordinarily expressive face adds so much to the pathos of the situation. I can only guess that the reason this film did not catapult Ms Hain to international prominence is the 'stigma' of the lesbian character as with Patricia Charbonneau after 'Desert Hearts' or Gina Gershon after 'Bound' and 'Showgirls'. Jeanette Hain should be one of the world's most successful actors and directors should sit up and take note! Commercially the labelling of films seems inevitable as target audiences are identified for marketing purposes; but it can serve to reduce the potential audience. 'Journey to Kafiristan' is billed as a 'Lesbian Interest' film but it is much more, it deals with the rise of feminism in Europe in the inter-war period. Both lead characters have transparently fake marriages for convention's sake and exist outside the norm while still using their married status to protect them in dangerous situations. If you're looking for GIRL-ON-GIRL action you would be better off looking elsewhere for while this is a love story it is cerebral and emotional rather than carnal.I cannot praise 'Journey to Kafiristan' highly enough.
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