This Russian documentary offered tantalizing glimpses of Afghanistan, which in 1929 was still one of the few heavily-populated areas in the world where the residents continued to live as they did in the Middle Ages. A progressive new leader named Amnullah tries to "Westernize" the country, meeting plenty of resistance from native reactionaries. Ultimately, Amnullah is overthrown, and things return to their original primitive state. One of several documentaries (mostly Russian) built around the rise and fall of Amnullah, Afghanistan was a surprisingly cold and uninvolving effort. Only when offering its impressive panoramic views of the Himalayas did the film truly come to life.
~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide