A Feature Film on Ármin Vámbéry in the Uránia Movie Theater

Hungary and the Republic of Tajikistan commemorated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations in the Uránia National Movie Theater. During the festive occasion, organized by the Representative Office in Hungary of the Organization of Turkic States and the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, the film made in Tajik–Hungarian–Turkish co-production with the title “The Lame Dervish” on Orientalist-Linguist Ármin Vámbéry was screened.

In his remarks at the event H.E. Idibek Kalandar, the Ambassador of Tajikistan to Vienna underlined that the relations between the two countries have always been based on mutual respect and achieving common goals. Márton Ugrósdy, the Director of the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade recalled briefly the developments thirty years ago as a result of which the diplomatic relations of the two countries were established.

After the above remarks had been made, “The Lame Dervish” was screened to the audience. This film is remarkable since one of its directors, József Kis – following the footsteps of Ármin Vámbéry (1832–1913) – traveled across Central Asia himself. The film was shot in 1987 as a result of his travels, mostly on the territory of what has since become the independent Tajikistan. It presents one of the episodes of the adventurous life of the former member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the famous traveler. The feature film, combining fiction and real events in a flexible way, guides the viewers to the Central Asia of the 1860s. The other director of the film – Valerij Ahadov – puts these events into the framework of the recollections of the globe-trotting scientist.

Gyula Benedek, who was cast in the role of the hero of the film, alias Rashid Effendi, reaches Bokhara by joining a caravan on its arduous journey across the desert. In the town isolated from the world, thanks to his good fortune and luck he gains access to manuscripts in the library of the ruling Emir that may shed new light on the early history of the Hungarians. However, after the death of the Emir, the good luck of Vámbéry, masking himself as a dervish, deserts him. He is even imprisoned before he manages to finally return home during a veritable odyssey.

In reality, the desire of Vámbéry, the trip to the East, became attainable by 1856, in the first place thanks to the support of Baron József Eötvös. The great traveler left for the East in 1857. First, he spent four years in Istanbul, then, after a short stint in Hungary, he embarked on the great journey depicted in the film with excellent camerawork. The copy of the Hungarian language film has been preserved for posterity in a good condition, and has also been provided with English subtitles.

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