Ulugh Beg: The Man Who Unlocked the Universe

In 2017, Timur Tillyaev and his wife Lola Tillyaeva (Till) produced the documentary film The Man Who Unlocked the Universe. The film presents the story of Ulugh Beg, one of humanity’s greatest astronomical minds who turned medieval Samarkand into a great centre of science 150 years before Galileo invented the telescope.

Ulugh Beg was born in 1394 and would go on to rule the great Timurid empire from 1411-1449. He was also a scientist, astronomer and mathematician, who built one of the most important observatories in the Islamic world in Samarkand. The Man Who Unlocked the Universe follows Ulugh Beg from childhood through to his death, weaving interviews with leading experts together with live-action sequences, taking viewers on a cinematic journey into the little-known world of this great historic Uzbek figure.

The film is narrated by one of international cinema’s best-loved stars, the French actor Vincent Cassel, and won the Cineo Award for Best Foreign Documentary at the 74th Venice International Film Festival, as well as Best Documentary Award at the Ischia Film Festival.

You can watch the film here.