This is Jordan

Registered: 15th October 1963
Duration: 24 minutes
Feet: 2160 feet
Board of Trade Certificate number: BR/E28878
Distributed by: United Artists
Production Company: Harold Baim Film Productions (London) Limited

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At the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a land steeped in a heritage dating back to the Old Testament.  It has always been at the centre of Arabic affairs and its proximity to Israel and its lack of resources has made this ancient country to woo the West in a way no other Arab country has done. The film shows this diversity and captures the essence of its remarkable history. 

Narrator: Edward Bishop
Photographed in Eastmancolor by: Alan Pudney
Sound Recordist: Cyril Brown
Music: De Wolfe
Film Editor: Frank Gilpen
Directed by:: Paul Weld Dixon

Produced by: Harold Baim


North, south, east and west, fly the jets of the 20th century. To the magical, mystical Middle East, where the sun shines even in winter. Where flowers bloom at Christmas time. Where ancient civilizations once held sway. An indefinable pull causes more and more people to turn eastwards to lands whose history is lost in the mists of time.

A journey to romance and adventure. A journey which starts with the thrill of landing at Jerusalem.

The holiest river in Christendom is the River Jordan, where John baptized Jesus.

2500ft above sea level stands the ancient city of Jerusalem.

This old city, surrounded by its massive medieval walls, was founded in prehistoric times and today abounds in important religious and historical sites.

Tourist guides are on hand to lead the way and to explain the thousand interesting facets of this fabulous land. The Via Dolorosa, “The way of the Cross”, starts at the site of Pontius Pilate's praetorium and ends at Calvary within the church of the Holy Sepulchre. It marks the route that Jesus trod, and the scenes of those days are forever depicted in the 14 stations of the cross. Every Friday, pilgrims and tourists travel the route and stop for prayer at each station.

Magnificent churches are all around, leaving the visitor in no doubt that this is indeed the land of the Bible. The land where Jesus was born, the land which was one of the cradles of early civilization.

The population of Jordan is predominantly Arab in race, and Moslem in religion. Estimated at 2 million inhabitants, of which 12% are Christians.

In addition to the Moslem and Christian Arabs, there are many other distinct cultures; Circassians, Copts, Persians, Baha'is, Armenians and White Russians, to name only a few. 220 Samaritans live here, directly descended from those of biblical times.
So, we leave Jerusalem, the city, which in 1000 BC was King David's capital and where Solomon built his temple. Jerusalem, the most sung about and written of city in the world. We make our way to Amman, the present-day capital of Jordan, 56 miles to the north east.

Modern Amman, one of the most rapidly expanding of national capitals, had a population of 20,000 forty years ago. Today, it numbers a quarter of a million. Amman is a picturesque and hilly city, surrounded by seven hills, encircled with tiers of white limestone villas and apartment houses.

Government ministries, modern hospitals, schools and colleges are among Amman's most impressive modern buildings, and life here moves with the pace associated with most of the capital cities of the world. Present day elegance and 20th century comforts stand side by side with the past, like this Roman theatre, where in summer orchestras play under the magic of an eastern sky.

Amman is a seat of the Jordanian government and once was the biblical capital of the Ammonites, descendants of Lot.

A city with a chequered history of conquerors. In 285 BC, under the rule of the Egyptians, it was named Philadelphia. 2300 years later, Amman is the Paris of the Middle East.

In a land like this, arts and crafts are handed down from generation to generation. The craftsman, disdaining the use of modern aids, create things of beauty, just as their forefathers did in their own time.

Connoisseurs and antique collectors find many things to engage their attention, from ceramics to oriental jewellery, embroidered linens, Greek, Roman and Crusader coins, and even Bedouin rugs and carpets. The working of ornaments and articles in mother of pearl is both fascinating and beautiful, and requires great patience and skill. The final results are well worth the time and effort spent in their creation. Real objects of beauty.

Under the glowing Jordan sun stands Jerash, one of the most beautifully preserved and restored Greco-Roman cities in the world. Known as the Pompeii of the Middle East. excavations and restorations are still proceeding apace. Buried under the dust of centuries were the streets of columns, a great oval forum, ancient bathhouses, theatres, no less than 13 churches, and crowning all, a temple.

Once an important centre along the caravan route which stretched from Arabia to the Tigris, it was at Jerash, in an age which disappeared so very long ago, that spices, silks and precious gems of all kinds changed hands.

Ultimately, late in the eighth century, earthquakes helped to destroy the city. The desert sands blew across and finally buried her until the day when excavations began to uncover what was left of her past glories.

79 miles south of Amman is Karak, originally a Moabite town. Today, its chief attraction is its fine castle, dating from Crusader times.

Jordan is a fertile land and cultivation is a mixture of ancient and modern.

One must admit that the old ways are certainly more picturesque and evocative than the new, and the more conservative farmer, indeed as in many other countries, contends that what was good enough for his father and grandfather is good enough for him.

Crops of all kinds are to be found. Deserts and lush green valleys make Jordan a land of striking contrasts and ever-changing vistas.

The contrast is so startling that within hours one is transported to scenes which were exactly the same as those pictured in the Bible. The shepherd with his flock seems not to have changed since biblical times. The sheep too, are the same breed which grazed in these fields over 2000 years ago.

Set in a frame of olive groves and green terraces, 11 miles from Jerusalem stands Bethlehem, the birthplace of David and Jesus, Bethlehem is the cradle of Christianity, and on Christmas Day in every year, a religious procession makes its way through the streets of this ancient and revered town.

Erected upon the site of the birthplace of Jesus is the Church of the Nativity.

Upon the hillside, a small boy fashions crucifixes of polished olive wood. There seems to be an air of unreality all around.

Built in the fourth century by Constantine and rebuilt by Justinian in the sixth, you must stoop to enter the church through the door of humility. Inside, a silver star set in marble marks the place of the birth of Christ.

At the lowest spot on earth is the Riviera in the Desert. You don't have to be able to swim in the Dead Sea, so buoyant is the water that you swim on it. Here you can always keep your head above water with no trouble at all. The beaches are sandy and made for relaxation. Plans are well advanced to supplement the excellent hotels already existing there.

Aqaba on the Red Sea is another of Jordan's warm winter resorts, and it is quickly acquiring a first-class reputation for its very different amenities.

This will make you rub your eyes in disbelief, but the camera seldom lies. This is a camel race and quite a lot of fun, but you still have to pick the winner.

Even if you are miles away in Jordan, you must know the form. Camel racing is one thing, but horse racing is the same as it is back home. The jockeys, however, ride magnificent steeds of Arab breed and they certainly make wonderful pictures.

A constant source of wonderment to the outside world is the continual discovery of ancient relics and priceless antiques in this land of Jordan. Not only famous archaeologists, but often more humble people continually come across and cherish articles they find in their daily wanderings and which eventually enrich museums the world over.

On the shores of the Dead Sea and in the immediate vicinity, the desert is riddled with caves, some of which, by diligent search, have yielded up secrets of countless hundreds of years ago. Secrets which have enabled scholars to reconstruct the civilizations of those times. The most outstanding discovery of all was that of the Dead Sea Scrolls, biblical manuscripts written over 2000 years ago.

A section of the Jordanian Army, also known as the Desert Police, is the Camel Corps. Their days and nights are spent in the desert, where they visit Bedouin camps and tribes. These men are tough and highly trained to cope with any eventuality, and as we watch them, it is almost like a page of Lawrence of Arabia come to life.

They are greeted by the chief and made welcome. Mansaf is served. A large round plate is piled high with rice. Meat is rolled in the rice, and manners dictate that only the right hand must be used to select food from the tray.

A new petroleum refinery satisfies the needs of the country.

At Aqaba, which is Jordan's only outlet to the sea, the port handles exports as divergent as phosphates and wool, hides and skins, olive wood and dried fruits, to name but a few.

Almost as old as time is the rose red city of Petra, where the most convenient way of entry is on horseback. The visitor rides down into this unique and awe-inspiring place, the like of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Situated 180 miles south of Amman, Petra was the former capital of a remarkable Arab tribe known as the Nabataeans, who settled there about the fifth century BC.

The city was carved out of the solid rock of the surrounding mountains. Rock stairs led to rock carved streets. Rock carved palaces lead to rock carved temples, tombs and dwellings.

Protectors of caravans moving from Arabia to the Mediterranean 2300 years ago, the Nabataeans were astute traders and painstaking builders of a system of walls and cisterns, terracing the arid land so that the barren deserts would produce grain, fruit and vegetables to feed their people.

Petra was lost to the world for some 500 years, until the Swiss explorer Burckhardt discovered it by chance in 1812. The secrets of her past Petra guards well, and will remain a mystery until the very end of time.

The old, and the new. Yes, This is Jordan.

[End - Credits]

General Shot List

Opening images illustrate The Middle East)
Comet aircraft in MEA livery in flight and landing.
Seven columns at Temple of Jupiter (Lebanon).
Flowering shrub in sunshine
Native trees at the coastal
Fisherman with nets in port at Sidon (Lebanon)
Palace of Beiteddine (Lebanon) with fountains
Title credit sequence “This is Jordan”
Viscount aircraft in Jordan Airways livery taxis at airport
Jerusalem Airport
Passengers leave Viscount Aircraft (JY-ACK) by mobile stairs
River Jordan from the air
General views of Jerusalem. Street scenes
Tourist guides woman through stepped streets
Many children run through narrow passageways
Via Dolorosa : The Way of the Cross procession To 14 Stations of the Cross
Views of churches. Ruins. Gardens
Muezzin calls to Prayer
Mosque interior
Stain glass windows
Gold domed churches
Long driving sequence through Jerusalem
Exterior Philadelphia Hotel
Deer in Garden
Grand house exterior
Government Buildings, schools etc.
Roman Amphitheater
Busy shopping street Cars and donkeys share the road
Main Street in ‘The Paris of the Middle East’
Man hand sewing woollen rugs
Craftsman uses potters wheel out side
Pots and jugs await firing next to potter
Woman hand paint pottery
Box made from mother of pearl
Other items hand made
Greco-Roman ruins at Gerasa (Jerash)
Kerack Castle (from Crusader times) : General Views
Olive Groves
Camel pulls plough. Two donkeys
Man sows seeds by hand
Fields of crops
Shepherd with his flock
Goats and camels
Christmas procession
The Church of the Nativity
Small boy makes crucifixes from olive wood
Entrance to Church through door of humility
Exterior scenes of Bethlehem
The lowest place on earth – swimming in The Dead Sea
Beach scene
Aqaba on the Red Sea : General scene
Camel race next to the Red Sea
Horse racing
Ariel shots of Jordanian countryside
Man rides a camel
Statues and antiques
Goats and goatherds in the desert
The caves in the shore of the Dead Sea
Place of discovery of biblical manuscripts The Dead Sea Scrolls
Ancient manuscripts
The Camel Corps – Desert Police tide camels
A Bedouin Camp
Large rice Mansaf dish is served to seated men
New oil refinery in desert setting
Port of Aqaba
Commercial shipping
LorrIes at the port
City of Petra
Red rocks : Carved Temples : General views
Camel herd roam hillside
Large American cars on desert highway