In The Footsteps of Marco Polo
In The Footsteps of Marco Polo Previous Broadcasts
KQED Life: Fri, Jul 1, 2016 -- 3:00 AM
Some people dream big dreams. Only a few bold adventurers live them. Two such adventurers are Denis Belliveau and Francis O'Donnell, who took a wild idea - to retrace Marco Polo's entire 25,000 mile land-and-sea route from Venice to China and back - and spent 2 incredible years of their lives trying to turn it into reality. "We made a pact," says O'Donnell, "that, under any conditions, no matter what, we were only coming back to the US 1 of 2 ways - either dead or successful."
This program chronicles the extraordinary journey of two ordinary guys - Denis, at the time a wedding photographer, Francis an artist and US Marine veteran - as they venture on foot, on horseback, on camelback, in jeeps and trucks and boats and trains, through Venice, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, several former republics of the Soviet Union, China, Indonesia and India. Equal parts travelogue, adventure story, history trek and buddy movie, it chronicles their highs and lows as they retrace Polo's path, trying to see what he must have seen, feel what he must have felt.
In a feat of undaunted courage, in the spirit of history's great adventurers, Belliveau and O'Donnell make their way across the world's largest land mass and back, securing - or, when necessary, forging - visas, surviving extreme temperatures, and talking their way out of jams brought on by Tajik soldiers, Chinese security officers, and an assortment of other bureaucrats, border guards and armed warriors. Interweaving Belliveau and O'Donnell's own tales with the original 13th century descriptions of Marco Polo, brimming with adventure, history, art, and no small amount of humor, this program is a unique cinematic experience.