27 October 2001 | khatcher-2
Something Wondrous to Behold
Soon after finding out what IMDb was, only about a year ago, one of the first things I did was to look up Marco Polo in an attempt to find out something about this series on video. How surprised I was to find various contributors bemoaning the fact that they had not been able to track down any version of this magnificent production. For this is what Marco Polo beware! 1982 version is. A wondrous work of art; a beautiful piece of story-telling based on this medieval traveller's experiences as he followed the silk route caravans deep into Persia, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and reaching China.
Although nearly twenty years old and with no way of seeing it again since then, memorable scenes from this tremendous production still come to my mind, accompanied by that glorious music one of Ennio Morricone's crowning achievements. Haunting, exciting scenes, so beautifully filmed by Pasqualino de Santis you could almost smell the thronged streets and cooking turms, the obstinate camels and ragged beggars, and through it all one of the best scores to have ever been written for any TV series.
Oh, how I wish I had had VHS back in those days!
Superb directing by Giuliano Montaldo, who for me is a complete unknown, such that the acting is of the best to be seen anywhere. And what a surprise to see further down the list names such as Anne Bancroft, Sir John Gielgud, Burt Lancaster, Leonard Nimoy and even F. Murray Abraham, could you ever believe that?
Marco Polo in this production was a gigantic production by the Italian RAI. This superb work should be repeated, like any other great work of art; it should be made available on VHS and DVD; it should be shown in cinemas; this fine epic is not like Kleenex to be used once and thrown away.
Some paltry excuse of copyright would seem to be the problem. But I argue that if other TV mini-series are repeated, why not this one? The only other magnificent TV mini comparable to Marco Polo that I can recall was 'Nostromo' (1996), another European co-production, based on Joseph Conrad's exquisite novel of the same name.
At last, now in 2005 I have managed to get this wonderful series on DVD: more than twenty years waiting for it!