Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
USA, 1976. Elizabeth E. Rogers Productions. Screenplay by David Koff. Cinematography by Mike Dodds. Produced by Anthony Howarth, David Koff. Music by G.T. Moore, Shusha. Film Editing by Carolyn Hicks. Academy Awards 1976.
Director Anthony Howarth follows the Bakhtiari people of Iran for an entire season and watches as this nomadic culture survives yet another year moving across dangerous rivers and mountains. The Bakhtiari, at the point that this film was made, are approximately 500,000 men, women and children who cross the Zagros mountains between winter and summer in order to accommodate their need for lands to pasture their animals (who number almost a million). Howarth’s approach to these people is considerably passive and remote by today’s documentary standards: his use of James Mason to read written narration in English that reveals the thoughts of a tribal elder is simply ridiculous, and the whole thing is filmed like a National Geographic video for the curious colonial. The human figures are rarely beyond caricature and quite often are blended into the surrounding topography, but the photography is beautiful and the film is valuable for at least giving a detailed view of this little-known (to the West) culture.