In The Footsteps of Marco Polo

In the Footsteps of Marco Polo is a 2008 PBS documentary film detailing Denis Belliveau and Francis O'Donnell's 1993 retracing of Marco Polo's journey from Venice to Anatolia, Persia, India and China. The movie documents the first quest "to visit and document every region Marco Polo claimed to have traveled" using only land and sea methods of transportation. Mike Hale of The New York Times writes that the documentary includes how Belliveau and O'Donnell "encountered Mongol horsemen and hostile Chinese security officers and survived a firefight between Afghan factions. In the spirit of Polo's journey -- and to prove a point regarding the authenticity of his account -- they disdained airplanes, traveling by foot, on horses and camels and by jeep, boat and train." A text by the same name as the video, In the Footsteps of Marco Polo, written by Belliveau and O'Donnell, and published by Rowman & Littlefield, serves as a companion to the documentary film. In the Footsteps of Marco Polo has been used by Belliveau to create a unique interdisciplinary educational curriculum that he presents at schools and libraries across the United States and internationally.


In The Footsteps of Marco Polo begins by discussing how in the 13th century A.D., a book was written "that would change the course of history"—the author was Marco Polo, who wrote about his travels in China, Persia, Tatarstan and India. Denis Belliveau and Francis O'Donnell, of Queens, New York, sought to retrace the entire 25,000 mile route of Marco Polo, eschewing aircraft and "going only by land or sea", even making a pact to return either “dead or successful”. Their main goal was to prove the validity of Marco Polo's account by capturing images of what Polo described in his Book of the Marvels of the World, or also known as, The Travels of Marco Polo.