#30 – Ghosts of the Caspian

(1985, GB, 120 min) Dir Richard Loncraine. Cast Art Malik, Brian Blessed, Omar Sharif.

Truish tale of the Iranian biologist Dr Tehrani (Malik) searching the north Iranian forests for evidence that the Caspian tiger may not be extinct in the mid to late Seventies, fighting on the way with loggers stripping the hills of their trees and the locals killing of the wildlife. A city bred scientist, his struggles with the privations of living rough are of great amusement to his experienced companions, which include Blessed’s Angelo Paxbury, former big game hunter turned conservationist, and Sharif’s local elder who is attempting to modernise his people. Of course Tehrani is unsuccessful and, when he returns home he finds that the revolution that has occurred in his absence has changed the country so much that he can’t settle back there and returns instead to the forest, like the tiger he seeks, never to be seen again. A heartfelt but never over serious drama, fantastically shot by Freddie Francis, that is only ever close to derailment in it’s opening straight with a cameo from Michael Palin as a lost butterfly enthusiast from the Royal Entomological Society, Lepidoptera Division, that seems beamed in from another planet.

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