If you like historical documentaries featuring ancient cultures, this one is an adventure! I highly recommend it. The only drawback is that it doesn’t deal so much with the actual religion, but more on how the narrator got there. If you want to learn more about this ancient religion, I will be adding more posts like this in the future, under keyword Zoroastrianism.
From the Youtube description: In search of the Zoroastrians an ancient people who have tended a holy flame for the last 2500 years.
Title: Iran – People of the Flames Zoroastrians (YT link) Uploaded by GetRidOfTheFed.
Zoroastrianism: Iran’s Modern People Of The Flames (2012) – 5 stars
Run time: 50 minutes. Let me start of with this. The documentary is less about the religion, and more about the journey to get there. From that perspective, this is a great watch. From a historical and writing point of view, this documentary is fantastic. We’ve got a brief glimpse into modern, metropolitan Iran, but we soon move over to the barren countryside. When the action progresses over to the mountains and ancient temples, it is like traveling back in time for me. The tidbits of history are informative and lively, the firsthand experiences of the narrator are vicarious to me, and the imagery of both the people, their lifestyles and their villages are outstanding. We get to see the remote mountain regions where fortresses and temples once stood, and lava cones where people are still living today. We learn about a mysterious religion of fire worship practiced by a small minority way out there in these remote locations. Just look at the size of the ruined columns at 42:50, and imagine what that complex would have looked like when it was still standing.
From the viewpoint of a writer, this documentary is as good as gold. I could write a good adventure novel based on what I already know plus the visuals I’m seeing here, set in the modern world. With only minor tweaking, this could easily become ancient Sumer or Babylon, or an entirely new, exotic foreign land. I could simply follow the path host David Adams took, with my own characters and motivations, because most of the plot is already in place: the search for the forbidden fire. I might just do it, too!
A couple of observations:
- Greece has its Olympic Torch. The Zoroastrians have their eternal flame, which allegedly has been burning for 2500 years.
- The Iranian grappling sport isn’t very good. I thought India’s martial arts were bad, but unless this Iranian wrestling is ceremonial, or something like Tai Chi, it just won’t work in a practical, real world exhibition. Their best wrestler could not take down the tall Anglo newbie; that says it all.
- I read this idea somewhere, a long time ago. The idea is that the eternal flame these people are worshiping was the inspiration for the burning bush Moses saw in the Bible. I’ve heard a couple of accounts already, about how Zoroaster saw his god, Ahura Mazda, in the flames. I think this is accurate. Zoroaster went out to a remote place and saw god in a fire, and so did Moses. That sounds a lot more believable than the worst navigator in the world, Moses, taking 40 years to walk a little over 100 miles.