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Wheels across India

Identifier: Film Collection no. 289

Scope and Contents

Filmed during the Denis-Roosevelt Asiatic Expedition, 1939. Made entirely in Burma, this film records the Denis-Roosevelt Asiatic Expedition led by filmmaker Armand Denis and his wife Leila Roosevelt. In Rangoon views of the beautiful Shive Dagon Pagoda and huge bamboo irrigation water wheels are seen, as well as the temples, pagoda and bas-reliefs featuring snake motifs at the Pegan ruins. Karen women carry baskets by tumplines. Their wrists, knees, ankles, and necks are wrapped with spiralled wire; their necks are elongated by this adornment. One of the women removes the wire from her neck at Denis's request, showing that her neck muscles have not atrophied. The expedition party is ferried across Lake Inle in boats which men propel by using their legs instead of their arms. Filmmaker Hassoldt Davis, a friend of Denis, is also seen. An excellent survey of the teak industry follows, including the training of elephants for logging work. The expedition party moves through a jungle on elephants fitted with howdahs, large wing-like rattan baskets. The final sequence focuses on a Burmese priestess (Shan) who must supplicate a king cobra to appease the snake god. She prepares for the visit to the cobra, arrives at a cave in the mountains (probably Mt. Popa where such a cult exists), and presents gifts of rice, salt, and fruit to the snake; then between strikes, she kisses the snake three times on the head.


  • [1940?]

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through interlibrary loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (31 minutes) : sound, black and white ; 16 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (31 minutes)) : sound, black and white ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Original format: 16 mm. print.



Armand Denis and Leila Roosevelt, producers; Leroy G. Phelps, assistant producer and photographer; Armand Denis, director; John Kenney, maintenance of cars and equipment; J.C. Bradford, music arrangements; Louis E. De Francesco, music direction; Leroy G. Phelps and Charles Wolfe, editors.

Wheels across India, [1940?]
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
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