The Roof of the World

Director Davlat Khudonazarov (First Spring of Youth) hails from the Pamir region of Tadjikistan where The Roof of the World was shot. A former head of the Soviet Filmmakers' Union, he lives in Moscow.

The Roof of the World is a beautiful and fascinating record of the peoples and landscape of Soviet Central Asia in 1928; it is also a heroic feat of filmmaking. The film, which documents a German-Soviet expedition into the Pamir region, elicited a now-classic question from Variety in a 1930 review: “Where were the photographers? . . . Undoubtedly this is one of the finest photographic record(s) of human heroism extant.” Moments of extraordinary mountaineering, including the scaling of Mt. Lenin, 20,000 feet above sea level, share the screen with priceless ethnographic details, including visits with Kirghiz living in the valley between the Alai and Trans Alai mountains, and with nomadic Chinese. The Roof of the World gave audiences access to the newest of Soviet republics, Tadjikistan, and also brought director Erofeev wide recognition for his documentary film style, which was in contrast with the more flamboyant aesthetic of Dziga Vertov.

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