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Colin Thubron, The Silk Road

This is a fascinating film from 1988 shot largely in Xinjiang and following the writer Colin Thubron as he travels along the ancient Silk Roads seeking out history, cultures, people and solitude.

Thubron is a well known travel writer, who has written about the Middle east, Russia and the Silk Road, and is also a fiction writer. Here you can see his sensitivity to the peoples and regions he moves amongst, and it is really an extraordinary journey to have made in 1988.

He also visits the largely protected Kizil Grottoes, and climbing into the caves with the help of ropes, sees both the magnificent artworks, and the destruction wrought by treasure seekers and iconoclasts alike.

In a rather poignant moment he also visits some of the graveyards of the Chinese forced to relocate into the region by their Government, and he discusses the tensions that abounded even then between the Han Chinese and the Turkic Uighar.

Eventually Thubron makes it to Kashgar, where he visits a large horse market, and then out beyond to the solitudes at the end of his journey where China, the Soviet Union, Pakistan and Afghanistan all meet.

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