This is a very unusual documentary about the famous Swedish explorer Sven Hedin’s long scientific expedition in the Gobi desert, around the end of the 1920s.
They took along a photographer and the result was a nearly 2-hour silent film about the trip. In the version posted here not even music has been added.
Next week I will start posting a couple of films about the European explorers who travelled to China at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries.
If you have the patience though it is good to see this first, as this is not reconstruction, as in those films, but very real, live hardship in the desert.
We do see some Buddhist sites along the way, like a visit to the Schande-miao (?) monastery to see its festivals, the remains of the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Kara-khoto, and the 1,000 Buddha cave temples at Bazaklik.
But the main part of the film is taken up with the journey itself, some of the adventures – and misadventures – on the road, and in the last section some of the very real difficulties the expedition faced with washed out roads, driving sands, driving snow and dying camels!