“In this award winning adventure,” the promotional text goes, “Michael Wood embarks on a 2000 mile journey in the foot steps of Alexander’s triumphal march from Greece to India.” The clip above is his visit to the Kalash people in Chitral, Pakistan. As long time readers know, I’ve harbored a fascination with these people for years, and, since the literature is so sparse, I can honestly say I’ve read almost everything ever written about them in English.
So let’s say this right away: the Kalasha do not descend from Alexander the Great, they do not speak a dialect of Greek, and the only reason they even call themselves the Kalash is because of the influence of the Kata and Kom in Nuristan (or Kafiristan, whatever). I really don’t know why Michael Wood perpetuates the myth that the Kalasha descend from Alexander the Great or do Greek anything; possibly it is the result of the many Greek activists who lavish the Kalash communities with money and archaeologists (even if they’re sometimes abducted by the crazies). Helping that myth along has certainly worked out for them.
But that doesn’t excuse a documentarian, who has the benefit of readily available books as well as plentiful university resources to assemble his background research. I don’t think Wood was needlessly sensationalizing his report, he probably just fell prey to the same myth and creative storytelling that seems to define that whole region. Even so, it’s disappointing to see something so untrue stated to authoritatively.
Bonus: Kalasha music videos.