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The Walls of Sana'a (1971)

Le mura di Sana'a (original title)
Documentary footage of the city of Sana'a in Yemen, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, with a voice-over calling for UNESCO to protect the city's architectural heritage before it is destroyed by development.


Pier Paolo Pasolini (commentary)


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Credited cast:
Pier Paolo Pasolini ... Narrator (voice)


The capital of Yemen, the city of Sana'a, holds an important part of history within its walls filled with medieval architecture and culture. But that same culture was about to disappear with the country's modernization which came after the civil war in the 1960's. To impeach such modern invasion, director Pasolini pledges to UNESCO for the recognition of Sana'a as a World Heritage Site. Written by Rodrigo Amaro

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Documentary | Short

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The historical walls of Sana'a
6 March 2014 | by Rodrigo_AmaroSee all my reviews

After going through a civil war in the 1960's, Yemen was no longer what it used to be, cities were destroyed and rebuilt in modern ways, following Western styles and losing part of its culture. The old city of Sana'a, the capital, was on its way of becoming a modern place just like many other cities. Centuries of history and the famous medieval architecture of the place within its walls could disappear anytime if it wasn't for the efforts of historians and many other people and efforts like this movie made by Pasolini.

In "Le Mura di Sana'a" ("The Walls of Sana'a"), the director speaks on behalf of the simple residents, people who wouldn't be heard by officials and authorities, and wouldn't have the means to pledge to UNESCO for the city's preservation as a World Heritage Site. Pier Paolo Pasolini shows the historical importance of the city through its magnificent and beautiful architecture composed of ancient and resisting long buildings, dating from the medieval period - all viewed through the spectacular lenses of Tonino Delli Colli - the markets, villages, squares and makes an important contrast with his native Italy by presenting a small village that got surrounded by contemporary constructions and now you can't even see the place on the horizon because of the modernization imposed by "evolution". "We can't save Italy, but there's time to save Yemen" says the narrator at its conclusion before his urgent messages to UNESCO.

The battle succeed, but the director wasn't here long enough to see it. As we all know, Pasolini got killed in 1975, and only in 1986 UNESCO would declare Sana'a as a World Heritage Site to be preserved for future generations. But what matters is that the movie got made, the director made a very good point without taking too long to expose his facts and to defend his cause, and there's plenty to be learned from here. 9/10

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Release Date:

November 1972 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Las murallas de Sana√° See more »

Filming Locations:

Sana'a, Yemen

Company Credits

Production Co:

Rosima Anstalt See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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