Grass (film)

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Original title Grass
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1925
length 71 minutes
Director Merian C. Cooper ,
Ernest B. Schoedsack
script Terry Ramsaye ,
Richard Carver
production Merian C. Cooper,
Ernest B. Schoedsack
camera Merian C. Cooper,
Ernest B. Schoedsack,
Marguerite E. Harrison
cut Terry Ramsaye ,
Richard Carver

Grass (subtitle: A Nation's Battle for Life or The Epic of a Lost Tribe ) is an American documentary by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack from the year 1925 . It is considered the first documentary film about Iran .


Cooper, Schoedsack and Harrison's journey begins in Angora and leads through Asia Minor . In the second month, when crossing a salt desert , they find out about an almost forgotten nomadic people in a caravanserai . Weeks later they are in the Taurus Mountains and meet game hunters in an abandoned fort. They travel to the southwest of Persia, where they meet a nomadic tribe of the Bakhtiars led by Haidar Khan. His nine-year-old son Lufta learns from him how to lead the tribe. Since the land has dried up and the herds can no longer find enough fresh grass, they decide to head east. The tents are packed the next morning. Loaded donkeys and horses travel through the mountains for days until they have to cross the Karun River with their 50,000 animals . They build rafts out of inflated goat skins, on which they fix some goats, sheep and calves and paddle across the river. All other animals have to swim through the water, a few drown in the rapids. Translating them all takes six days. This is followed by a difficult barefoot path through rocky mountain landscape and snow-covered highlands to Zardeh Kuh , where they shovel their way through the snow. Beyond the mountain, they encounter grasslands and pitch their tents again near Isfahan .


The filmmakers Cooper and Schoedsack as well as the journalist Harrison took part in the 48-day migration of the Baba-Achmadi tribe of the Bakhtiars in early 1924 and crossed the Zard-Kuh-Pass with them. As was common in documentaries of his time, Grass also contains some posed scenes, such as a stage dance.

In addition to being the front woman, Harrison helped fund the film. The film was produced by Paramount Pictures and premiered on March 20, 1925.

In Iran, the film was not shown for two decades until 1964, after Reza Shah Pahlavi resigned because he tried to curb free and self-determined nomadism and to promote urbanization in a modernist manner. The version shown in 1964 was provided with additional comments in order to contain negative effects.

In 1997, Grass was inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress .


Despite the orientalist view, it is not downward looking, as in later orientalist films.

Film historian Erik Barnouw called the river crossing one of the most spectacular scenes ever filmed (“one of the most spectacluar sequences ever put on film”). Kevin Brownlow described the train over the Zard-Kuh-Pass as the most unforgettable epic scene in the documentary .

Individual evidence

  1. According to a text panel in the film.
  2. Hamid Naficy: A Social History of Iranian Cinema. Volume 1: The Artisanal Era, 1897-1941. Duke University Press, Durham NC et al. 2011, ISBN 978-0-8223-4775-0 , p. 163.
  3. a b Hamid Reza Sadr: Iranian Cinema. A Political History (= International Library of Iranian Studies. Vol. 7). IB Tauris, London et al. 2006, ISBN 1-84511-146-X , p. 20.
  4. a b Hamid Naficy: A Social History of Iranian Cinema. Volume 1: The Artisanal Era, 1897-1941. Duke University Press, Durham NC et al. 2011, ISBN 978-0-8223-4775-0 , p. 162.

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