Austrian filmmaker Kurt Mayer tries to locate the route taken by explorer Laszlo Almasy, who inspired Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, during his 1929 expedition from Cairo through the Libyan desert. Mayer’s father was a newsreel cameraman accompanying Laszlo, and the director intercuts the earlier footage with his own, examining both the colonial past and its vestiges in present-day Egypt. Old-time European adventurers trek through the desert, blustering about their prewar days in the exclusive men’s clubs of London, Vienna, and Cairo, while Mayer weaves in family history and muses about the process of discovery. His soporific voice-over can be distracting, but this 2000 documentary benefits from his irony and his firm grasp of time and place, and its aerial cinematography of the desert is terrific. In German with subtitles. 110 min.