Marco Polo's route across China retraced for documentary

2024-07-05 Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

People attend the premiere of the documentary In the Footsteps of Marco Polo in the Curzon cinema in Mayfair, London on Wednesday. (XING YI/China Daily)

The documentary In the Footsteps of Marco Polo, with Stanley Johnson and his youngest son Max Johnson as hosts, premiered in the Curzon cinema in Mayfair, London on Wednesday.

Stanley Johnson, an author, environmentalist, and former member of the European Parliament, is the father of the United Kingdom's former prime minister Boris Johnson, who also attended the event.

Following the ancient trade route taken by the Italian merchant and explorer Marco Polo more than 700 years ago, presenters Stanley and Max recreated the ancient journey from China's western border to Beijing, crossing more than 5,000 kilometers in seven weeks.

The documentary showcased the country's astonishing landscapes while featuring engaging interviews with diverse locals and capturing the hilarious banter between the 83-year-old father and his 40-year-old son.

At Wednesday's premiere, Stanley recounted the story of his first failed attempt to retrace the ancient route six decades ago, when he was a student at the University of Oxford, and how that dream was finally realized last year with the collaboration of Chinese and United Kingdom teams.

"Sixty-two years ago, I first set out to try to follow Macro Polo's way to Beijing and didn't succeed. Sixty-two years later, we got there, we made it!" Stanley said. "We've met people, and we've been entertained by people, and we've had experiences which I will never forget.

"Macro Polo became the great bridge-builder between the East and the West, and he is still very much appreciated in China. To me, I hope this film will also help in a symbolic bridge-building."

Zheng Zeguang, China's ambassador to the UK, told the audience at the premiere: "This is a story about pursuing dreams … It's also a story about China-UK collaboration … This is also a story about cultural exchanges and mutual learning.

"I hope all of you, and people in the UK, will be following the footsteps of Marco Polo and also the footsteps of Stanley Johnson. Travel to China, see the culture, and meet the people. As the ambassador, I will do whatever I can to facilitate. So, please take up the invitation and travel to my country."

Sherard Cowper-Coles, chair of the China-Britain Business Council, said after watching the premiere: "Stanley's film was just wonderful. (It is) a powerful evocation of Chinese civilization, ancient and modern, delivered with taste, humanity, humor and brilliant cinematography."

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