The fascination of the mysterious, the unfamiliar, the exotic: monks and hunters in the harsh desert of Tibet, as well as English interventionist troops and fur-traders. A young Mongolian is cheated, puts up a fight, gets caught up between the two parties in the conflict and survives thanks to a mysterious document. A fairy tale from remote worlds and times, full of mysterious images, ritual dances and wild hunting scenes. The unknown world of the desert landscape and the strange-looking dwellings of the indigenous inhabitants point beyond mere illustration, thereby acquiring a dramaturgic significance that is steeped in even more secrets thanks to its faraway exoticism. The film's protagonist is particularly fascinating: with his temperament and ingenuousness, he survives unusual situations, which always contain surprising turns. The turbulent, furious finale of the film is famous: the actors are virtually swallowed up and disappear in a huge tornado of human beings and elements nature. The film could be seen as an ideological pamphlet. However, the directing – especially the mass directing of the extras, the cameras and the leading actors – transcends all ideological rigidity.
Print courtesy of Filmmuseum im Münchner Stadtmuseum, Munich
by Wsewolod Pudowkin
with Waleri Inkischinjow, Lew Dedinzew, L. Belinskaja