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Grass: A Nation's Battle For Life (1925)

Marguerite Harrison , Haidar Khan , Ernest B. Schoedsack  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Marguerite Harrison, Haidar Khan, Lufta, Ernest B. Schoedsack
  • Directors: Ernest B. Schoedsack
  • Format: Black & White, Silent, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 28, 2000
  • Run Time: 71 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305773955
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,569 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Grass: A Nation's Battle For Life" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Bonus Feature: Film historian Rudy Behlmer audio interview with producer director Merian C. Cooper

Editorial Reviews

A classic adventure by the makers of "King Kong." In 1924, neophyte filmmakers Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack hooked up with journalist and sometime spy Marguerite Harrison and set off to film an adventure. They found excitement, danger and unparalleled drama in the migration of the Bakhtiari tribe of Persia (now Iran). Twice a year, more than 50,000 people and half a million animals surmounted seemingly impossible obstacles to take their herds to pasture. The filmmakers captured unforgettable images of courage and determination as the Bakhtiari braved the raging and icy waters of the half-mile-wide Karun River. Cooper and Schoedsack almost froze when they filmed the breathtaking, almost unbelievable, sight of an endless river of men, women and children--their feet bare or wrapped in rags--winding up the side of the sheer, snow-covered rock face of the 15,000-foot-high Zardeh Kuh mountain.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
This remarkable film easily fits on the same shelf with the finest early documentaries, such as Nanook of the North, Silent Enemy and Man of Aran, whose aim was to capture on film ways of life that were in the process of passing away and now no longer exist. What sets this one apart from the others is that in this film there was a real effort to achieve authenticity and not to create a false (even if "true in spirit") narrative as a backdrop for the plot. In all of the other films mentioned there was a fairly substantial artificiality to the story that was used to retain interest in the material (i.e. they show natives engaging in activities that they no longer engage in, or that they rarely engage in; they set up little dramas; this is something that Schoedsack and Cooper found they needed to do for the success of their next film: Chang; but here they tried to be more naturalistic). In this case, there are two narratives that undergird the document: the story of Schoedsack and Cooper themselves (who remain for the most part in the background) and of the woman who accompanied them (Marguerite Harison); the second is the story of the tribal leader and his young son who will someday take the mantel of the father and lead the villagers along the same journey. While there is some staging of these "stories," it is less complex than in the other films and retains a ring of authenticity -- the boy really will have to become a leader and the crew really did make it across (it is also interesting to note that they include a mark of the authenticity of their journey in the film by filming a signed affidavit from a local authority that they had in fact completed the trek). Read more ›
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most amazing film I've ever seen December 6, 2003
This 1925 silent film documentary is not for everybody. The first half is irrelevant and slow, and the commentary is hokey. I was surprised there were no dramatic Hollywood scenes of people falling off cliffs. But what I got instead was a historical record of 50,000 people and 500,000 animals walking for 48 days across Persia to avoid famine. It's hard to believe that these are real people, genuinely swimming for their lives, crossing a half-mile of freezing rapids holding on to blown up goat skins. We are so used to seeing things staged, that it's hard to accept that they really are climbing that 12,000 foot mountain in their bare feet, to get a better grip in the ice and snow.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and Horrific June 2, 2002
Though the movie does not dwell excessively on the pain of the 50,000 people who twice anually must trek for 48 days in order to survive, the horrors of such a journey cannot be ignored. The movie is a beautiful account of the lives of humans in the harshest of conditions.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And You Thought You Had a Hard Day? December 23, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
You absolutely, positively MUST see this movie. Merion C. Cooper, director of the original (1930's) King Kong & two other Americans filmed this incredible exodus in 1927. With heavy, old camera equipment. In the winter. In the mountains of Iran. By foot and mule. And their subjects are utterly awe inspiring.

I first saw this silent, B&W documentary in 2005. I was right in the middle of packing for a huge, draining household move from the mountains of New Mexico to Texas. My husband was sick, I was utterly exhausted, and I was just 3 days out from the moving company's arrival. I sat down at midnight & caught this on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) and was so inspired I promised to never complain about modern moving again (and I haven't)!

These Iranian tribesman undertake an annual pilgrimage across the most challenging terrain you would ever believe humans could traverse JUST TO GET THEIR ANIMALS TO GRASS. They walk barefoot through the snow. Herding cattle and sheep and horses. With cradles on their backs. And dogs tied to the tops of the animals. They cross freezing meltwaters on inflatable goatskins.

If I hadn't seen it myself, I wouldn't believe it. Anyone with a sense of adventure has got to see this one!!!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Lessons 101 May 30, 2000
Great Film! Story is untouched by Hollywood flair and fantasy because you just can't make this stuff up.There came a point in the film when I realized I had taken for granted that this was just a movie. Then I realized that their very survival rested on each and every step they took forward. If you think your life is stressful and unrewarding this movie will inspire you. Riveting!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars GREAT VINTAGE DOCUMENTARY BY KING KONG'S CREATORS September 17, 2006
In the early 1920s, the creators of King Kong, Merian C. Cooper and his partner Ernest B. Schoedseck, were fledgling filmmakers when they shot GRASS: A NATION'S BATTLE FOR LIFE.

In dramatic black and white, silent, with music score added later, this account of the Persian (now Iran) Bakhtiarian tribe's annual migration is as gripping as the like-minded People of the Wind (also available on DVD).

This great companion piece to the later and similar film reveals how minimal the changes -- besides fewer numbers, only 50,000 persons -- in the routines over the intervening 50 years between the films.

I like this film's artistry (Shoedsack's photography) and the bold theatrical sense of Cooper's direction. It's the same journey but with different people and from a more primitive and perhaps more daring perspective.

Unrated. Genre: Adventure documentary. 1 hour, 21 minutes. Director: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Shoedsack and Marguerite Harrison.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great view into the people.
Published 27 days ago by ads
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 27 days ago by Gretchen Ceteras
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Amazing!
Do yourself a favor and watch this film. Assuming you like movies with historic integrity and not stuff like the Kardashians. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Desert Eli
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating look at unbelievable real nomadic migration
This is one of the most incredible movies I have ever seen. Made in the l920's, it is the story of the annual migration of the Bahktiari tribe. Read more
Published 8 months ago by megan whitby
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Documentary
I caught this on AMC one day and HAD to buy it. The music is the only audio, but it is so beautiful and sets the tone. Read more
Published 19 months ago by KTei
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable documentary
The most astonishing documentry recorded by Hollywood. Without this, a part of human history would be lost. A most see piece of art.
Published on August 18, 2011 by Lei
4.0 out of 5 stars The state of the art in 1925 is, in many ways, still the state of the...
Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life (Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack, 1925)

If you're one of those people who doesn't like silent movies just because they're silent... Read more
Published on July 28, 2009 by Robert Beveridge
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding video!
This video is one of the most astounding things I have ever seen. It is unbelievable to me what these people went through every year in their travels just to survive. Read more
Published on July 3, 2009 by Naunie Gardner
5.0 out of 5 stars You have to see it to believe it, as they say
Everyone I've shown this movie to was breathless with amazement, and this covers a 5 year old to a 90 year old (my son and father). Read more
Published on August 1, 2008 by kalanamak
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly magnificant adventure
The fact that the subject of this amazing film took place during my lifetime is awesome. The human spirit and determination and courage are seldom displayed so dramatically.
Published on May 2, 2008 by B. Hadad
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