Web producer Stephen Puschel has been mesmerized by the travels of two guys from Queens, N.Y., who traced Marco Polo’s journey across the world. Stephen reviews the documentary “In the Footsteps of Marco Polo,” which was co-produced by WNET.org.
At Worldfocus, we cover the world. But Denis Belliveau and Francis O’Donnell literally covered it — on foot. Here’s a preview:
In celebration of Marco Polo’s 700th anniversary in 1993, Denis and Francis were inspired to walk in the explorer’s footsteps — a mere two years and 25,000 miles — through war zones, vast deserts and across mountain ranges.
Fast-forward 15 years later, and their epic journey is packaged in a 90-minute film that’s a hybrid experience of adventure, culture and camaraderie.
They crisscrossed through some of the most remote places on earth, traveling by boat, camel, horse, truck and on foot.
In a Tajik village, they met residents who had never seen westerners. In Sumatra, tribesmen wore tattoos as clothes. In Iran, anti-U.S. protests filled the streets.
Perhaps the most memorable moments are the anecdotes that would be monumental lifetime stories for many. For Denis and Francis, those moments were incidentals along the way.
While in Afghanistan, Denis and Francis ask a warlord for help when crossing the most dangerous region in the country. The general says, “This part of the country is very dangerous. I’m going to give you a helicopter and you can pick up Marco Polo’s trail after that.”
Denis and Francis kindly decline the offer. After all, Marco Polo didn’t fly in helicopters. The general furnishes the duo with 25 bodyguards and eight jeeps to make the trek “safely.”
My only complaint is the tone of the narration, which sounded suspiciously similar to my Kindergarten teacher — a little spoon-fed and unnecessary at times.
Other than that, I highly recommend it. The people they meet along the way remind me of all the voices and places I don’t hear about on a daily basis.
So, at Worldfocus.org, we’re searching for bloggers who are writing and talking about these places.
– Stephen Puschel