Carvalho's Journey

A great story...stunning visuals...a very rare treat.


Carvalho's Journey

Part of our Culture Vulture series. For more screenings and information, visit:
A real life 19th-century American western adventure story, Carvalho’s Journey tells the extraordinary story of Solomon Nunes Carvalho (1815-1897), an observant Sephardic Jew born in Charleston, South Carolina, and his life as a groundbreaking explorer and artist.

In 1853, traveling with famed explorer John Fremont’s Fifth Westward Expedition, Carvalho became one of the first photographers to document the sweeping vistas and treacherous terrain of the far American West. Carvalho, a portrait painter who had never saddled his own horse, survived grueling conditions and lack of food along the 2400 mile journey from New York City through Kansas, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and California. Carvalho’s experience as a Jew on the western trail was unprecedented, and his experience–and his writing about it–grant a clear window into the inter-ethnic cultural exchanges that were commonplace in this period in American history. Traveling alongside mountain men, pioneers, Native Americans, and Mormons, Carvalho produced beautiful art: daguerreotypes that became the lens through which the world experienced the American West.

Carvalho’s Journey draws extensively on Carvalho’s bestselling 1857 memoir,
Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far West. Voiceover recordings by acclaimed actors bring Carvalho’s dramatic, funny and humanist writings to life, along with first-person accounts by John Fremont, their Native-American guides, and 19th century luminaries such as Brigham Young of Utah, with whom Carvalho had a unique audience in Salt Lake City.

The film interweaves stunning HD digital and 16mm film landscape cinematography, rare 19th century photographs and artwork, Carvalho’s own surviving paintings and daguerreotypes, and interviews with scholars and artists, including modern day daguerreotypist Robert Shlaer who recreates Carvalho’s original daguerreotypes on location.

Narrated by Award winning actor Michael Stuhlbarg (
Boardwalk Empire, Hugo, A Serious Man). With original music by Jamie Saft (composer, Murderball).
Not Rated
Documentary, Culture Vulture, Bio-pic, History
Steve Rivo
Josh Hamilton
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