Celebrated Iranian globetrotter Abdollah Omidvar dies at 89

July 15, 2022 - 19:6

TEHRAN – Celebrated Iranian globetrotter Abdollah Omidvar, who along with his brother created one of the world's first travel documentaries, died Thursday at the age of 89.

“Iranian adventurer, researcher and documentarian Abdollah Omidvar passed away yesterday… Born in 1932, he lived in Chile over the past couple of years,” Mehr reported on Friday.

In the 1950s, the Omidvar brothers travelled the Congo, the Arctic and the Andes on motorbikes and in a 2CV.

Throwing their film-making kit on their bikes and with just $90 each to spend, they set out to see the most remote people they could find. En route, they created a visual record that is now a milestone in film history, a documentary record of a vanished world: peoples, cultures and even entire countries that no longer exist.

Heading east they first passed through Pakistan, India, south-east Asia and Australia, eventually crossing the Pacific and heading up through Alaska and Canada into the Arctic. A vast sweep all across and down the Americas ended with a trip to Antarctica then, after a brief trip home, a new round of exploration in a 2CV, which they drove through Africa, somehow managing to get the vehicle through the Congo and the formidable barrier of the Ituri forest.

Celebrated Iranian globetrotter Abdollah Omidvar dies at 91

As mentioned by The Guardian, the films they made along the way are full of the wonder and excitement of exploration. They also bring an interesting counterpoint to a visual media that was, at the time, dominated by America and Europe. While the rest of the world was racing to modernity and feeling smugly superior to so-called primitive peoples, Abdollah and Issa Omidvar had an easy affinity and respect for those they met, something that gave them unique access to sights and sounds that were soon to be lost. What we also see is a world in a far better condition than might be imagined: forests seem endless, remote people seem happier and more secure in their lives; it is a world before globalization, and a place cleaner and far less hectic.

When their journeys ended, Abdollah settled in Chile, founding a successful film company and cinema, while Issa returned to Iran as something of a celebrity. There in Tehran, he built a museum to house all the artefacts that he and his brother had collected. It's a place very much worth a visit.

Travel fans may visit their pictures, personal belongings and other associated objects at the Omidvar Brothers Museum inside the Sadabad Cultural-Historical Complex, northern Tehran.


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