The introduction of the monumental Silk Road project on video is a significant event. The ground-breaking Chinese-Japanese production, which took 10 years and $50 million to film, has already won acclaim in the 25 countries where it has been shown on television. (Cable TV’s Monitor Channel will broadcast the series in the U.S. later this year.) American viewers can now begin to share the world’s wonder in the first six parts of a projected 42-episode release, as the crew of filmmakers and scientists sets out to retrace the ancient Silk Road trade route from its Oriental end south of Beijing to Rome.
This is more a muscular documentary than slick travelogue. We learn that Western China is a vast archaeological treasure house, where dry desert climates, insular cultures, and xenophobic governments have conspired to preserve two millennia of lost kingdoms and fallen cities. The Silk Road is a treasure in itself. A+