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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
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'What a one-horned ram can do, a one-legged chapandaz can do better!'
Set in Afghanistan, John Frankenheimer's 'The Horsemen' is the story of a tribesman determined to rival his father at horsemanship Uraz is sent by his father Tursen to win the traditional Royal Buzkashi on the field of Bagrami in the capital city of Kabul
Uraz on Jahil has to battle for control of a headless calf, carry it around a blue flag, and deposit it back in the 'Circle of Justice' thus signifying that he wins the king's pennant and remains as the master chapandaz of all Afghanistan During the tournament, opposing horsemen use their whips to urge on their horses and to hit the rider for the chance to snatch the heavy carcass
The motion picture turns around five well drawn characters: an angered son eaten up with vanity; a brave father who knew something worse than danger; a nomad woman whose touch defiles; a once loyal servant lusted for an 'unclean woman;' and a wager from the high passes of the East where 'men know how to forge fine weapons and use them well'
Uraz (Omar Sharif) deliberately chose to bribe his devoted servant with the magnificent white stallion in order to increase the already terrible dangers which he hopes to conquer
Zareh (Leigh-Taylor Young) urges her man to kill his high blood master to secure for herself his horse and his money
Tursen (Jack Palance) know nothing but evil legends about an impossible road taken by his embittered son His pain, remorse, and blood wept for a son lost through his fault
Mukhi (David de Keyser) forgets his humble and faithful world in the arms of the 'untouchable' woman who pushes him to murder the great prince
Hayatal (Peter Jeffrey) takes the challenge against 'the Prince Ram of the Valley' declaring openly to Uraz: 'What a one-horned ram can do, a one-legged chapandaz can do better!'
To understand 'The Horsemen' you must understand the rage, the beauty, and the tradition of a mountainous and landlocked country, isolated and left outside the mainstream of civilization
Written by Academy Award winner Dalton Trumbo (The Brave One, Best Original Screenplay, 1956) 'The Horsemen' is a passionate film for men only The film is a search that marks out the true concepts of honesty, integrity, loyalty, and trust
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