This 1940 color film production was compiled with footage from the experiences of Lawrence Copley Thaw and his wife, Margaret Thaw, during the wealthy couple’s Trans-Asia expedition and travels through India. Lawrence Thaw earned fame for his exploits with Margaret when both were correspondents for National Geographic. They undertook an expedition in 1938 across central Africa, which became a feature in the magazine. As a sequel, they decided to retrace the Great Silk Route, the ancient commercial land link that Marco Polo once plied from today’s Beirut, across Mesopotamia and the Hindu Kush, then through the Khyber Pass into India.
An all-GM fleet was selected for the 20,000-mile journey, much of it made over unpaved roads and tracks that were little more than simple trails. Leading the way was the GMC-towed land yacht, urged on by the tractor’s 308.2-cu.in. straight-six. A pair of 1939 Chevrolet flatbeds were assigned to carry some 10 tons of provisions, photo and camping gear.
The travelogue of the journey is narrated by Vincent Pelletier with music by Samuel Benavie. General Motors is acknowledged by the filmmaker as the designer and builder of the pair’s motor transportation. In the introduction, many national departments within India are thanked for their assistance in giving American viewers a rare chance to see ceremonial life in India. At 01:45, a red map of India coupled with the blue Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal bordering below and on either side of the country is shown. The land and people of India, described from the Western viewpoint during the time period of the Second World War, are depicted in trade interactions, farming, and other daily activities (02:15-04:05). Cultural festivities and ceremonial dancing in traditional Indian garments are shown (04:26-05:24). At 05:27, students learning the Quran sit beside fellow pupils and teachers. One of the largest in India, the Numa mosque in Delhi, most commonly known as the Jama Masjid, is shown at 05:56. Hindus also appear at one of their respective places of worship by the sacred Ganges River participating in funeral ceremonies (06:00-06:33). From 06:35, the narrator reflects on another religious group in India, those who follow Jainism. Crowds of Jain worshipers climbing the five hundred steps uphill in Shravanabelagola, Karnataka to pay tribute at the feet of the enormous statue of Gomatesvara, also known as Bahubali. At 08:34, the Taj Mahal, built by Shah Jahan to memorialize his bride, is depicted. A birthday Durbar celebration of the Maharaja of Patiala, Indian prince of the Punjab, is presented at 09:43. Footage of the grand wedding procession of His Highness of Bikaner's granddaughter, marrying the heir apparent of Udaipur, takes place among lavish wedding gifts and many government officials dressed in ornate garments as ceremonial dancing for the bride is underway nearby (11:15-17:01).
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com