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The Horsemen (1971)

Drama depicting rural life in contemporary Afghanistan and the Afghani people's love for an ancient traditional sport similar to horseback polo.

Director:

John Frankenheimer

Writers:

Dalton Trumbo (screenplay), Joseph Kessel (based upon the novel 'The Horsemen' by)
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Cast

Cast overview:
Omar Sharif ... Uraz
Leigh Taylor-Young ... Zareh
Jack Palance ... Tursen
Peter Jeffrey ... Hayatal
Srinanda De Srinanda De ... Mukhi
George Murcell ... Mizrar
Eric Pohlmann ... Merchant in Kandahar
Vernon Dobtcheff ... Zam Hajji
Saeed Jaffrey ... District Chief
John Ruddock John Ruddock ... Scribe
Mark Colleano Mark Colleano ... Rahim
Salmaan Peerzada ... Salih (as Salmaan Peer)
Aziz Resham Aziz Resham ... Bacha to Ghulam (as Aziz Resh)
Leon Lissek ... Chikana Proprietor
Vida St. Romaine Vida St. Romaine ... Gypsy Woman (as Vida St Romaine)
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Storyline

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 KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A Horse Worth Killing For. A Dream Worth Dying For. See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 July 1971 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Orgullo de estirpe See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Frank Langella was offered a part by John Frankenheimer, but Columbia insisted on a screen test before signing any contract. The screen test was a success, but in the meantime Mel Brooks had offered Langella the second lead in The Twelve Chairs (1970) and he chose that instead. A furious Frankenheimer told him he would never work in this town again. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

District Chief: What demon has possessed you to mock these good people with that piece of dog-bait?
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Not A Book That Lends Itself To Cinema
30 August 2013 | by Theo RobertsonSee all my reviews

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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