The Horsemen (1971)

If you’re going to make a film about an Egyptian Afghan such as Omar Shariff, then where better to make the film if not where you made a film about an Egyptian Russian called ‘Doctor Zhivago’; Spain

Omar Shariff returned to Spain for this John Frankenheimer story of real men and their horses.

Filming began in Afghanistan itself until fevers and dehydration set them scurrying back to locations in Almeria and around Madrid with comfortable hotels and excellent mineral water.

The walls of Jairán, part of the Alcazaba castle in the city of Almeria represented the entrance to Kabul, from which Omar exits with his broken leg after losing the tasteless horse race.

Animal lovers will no doubt have a collective fit when they see this film. Most of what passes for Afghan culture seems to consist of two animals destroying each other for the benefit of gambling tribesmen, and the headless calf race is especially brainless. 

Before that delight, we are treated to a bloody camel fight and even two tweetie birds slugging it out. Later we also see two rams going at it, twice, disproving the old adage that two heads are better than one.

Despite all this disgraceful cruelty towards animals, the Afghans do seem to have a disturbingly intimate relationship with their horses.