The Silk Road

Synopsis: Since the first century to 1650, a whole network of trade routes crossed the Eurasian continent, from China to the shores of the Mediterranean, which was the main caravan route between East and West.
Genre: Documentary

The Silk Road

In the West stood a continent built

on lofty ideals and grand ambition.

In the East, towered an empire of

unimaginable size and splendor.

For thousands of years

these two civilizations had thrived

in seeming isolation.

Two men stepped into the void.

Marco Polo was lured by the promise

of unprecedented wealth.

Sven Hedin by a thirst for adventure

and the trappings of world fame.

Confronted by the most

daunting terrain on earth,

they went in search of the impossible

a lasting connection

between East and West

Along the old Silk Road.

Italy, 1296 A.D.

A Venetian trader languishes in jail

and wonders if he will ever get out.

His name is Marco Polo

and he's now a prisoner of war

the victim of an ongoing conflict

between Genoa and his native Venice.

Polo is afraid he will die here

in jail

and he's come up with

an amazing strategy for survival.

A book about his life and his travels.

An incredible story that might allow

his name to live on forever.

"There has been no man,

Christian or pagan,

Mongol or Indian,

or of any race whatsoever,

who has known or explored

so much of the world

and its great wonders as have I,

Marco Polo."

He writes about his incredible trek

across lethal mountains and deserts...

to Cathay, modern day China: a magical

country at the end of the earth.

A land so wealthy that its ruler could

entertain 40,000 guests at a time.

A civilization so advanced they could

predict the movement of the heavens.

A culture so generous that husbands

even shared their wives with strangers.

Marco Polo's book was a success.

His journey to Cathay

has become one of the most famous

adventure stories ever written.

But it is full of such incredible

tales of discovery

and intrigue that it leaves everyone

wondering the same thing:

Could it possibly be true?

Or is Polo's adventure

along the old Silk Road

actually a masterpiece

of the imagination?

In the first century B.C.,

imperial Rome dominated the west,

Han China the east.

A world apart, these two superpowers

knew little of each other's existence.

The seductive beauty of

one substance drew them closer.

It all began in Mesopotamia. 53 B.C.

Roman legions were on the brink of

a historic victory

against the Parthian army.


the Parthians unfurled huge banners

of a magical translucent material.

The Roman army had never seen anything

like it, and fled in confusion

leaving 20,000 dead

on the battlefield.

Fear turned to fascination

and silk quickly became

the rage in ancient Rome.

The Chinese fabric was soon

worth its weight in gold.

Traders saw their chance.

Caravans braved the 5000 miles

separating China and Rome.

Cities sprung up in the deserts

and plains to service the traders.

Along with the goods flowed ideas

that revolutionized

the cultures along the way.

Buddhism and Islam spread eastwards.

Printing and papermaking went West.

The Silk Road pioneering connection

between East and West was established.

People have a mental vision

that the Silk Road is like I95,

a huge long highway

and that one person took some silk

from one end all the way to the other.

And in fact

that almost never happened.

Merchants would take the goods

from one oasis to another

and then another group of merchants

would take them on.

So I think the Silk Road

is not the road.

I think the most important things are

those communities along the Silk Road.

For nearly a thousand years

these communities thrived.

In the 10th century,

China collapsed in civil war,

and it was no longer safe

to travel in the East.

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Tony Grisoni

Tony Grisoni (born 28 October 1952) is a British screenwriter. He lives in London. His first feature film, Queen of Hearts, directed by Jon Amiel, won the Grand Prix at the 1990 Festival du Film de Paris. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "The Silk Road" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 8 May 2021. <>.

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