The Story Of The Weeping Camel

The Story Of The Weeping Camel


Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

The Story Of The Weeping Camel blends enacted drama and documentary carefully, exposing us to a fleeting framework in which to hang an examination of those who live in the Gobi desert - nine people altogether, with assorted animals. Crisis comes when a new camel colt is born and its mother rejects it after a long and painful birthing. There are few things more emotionally provoking than a child's anguish and this film uses both camel and human cries to evoke our sympathies.

An obsession with the most trivial survival skills is what makes it so unique, with detail taken on preparing food, setting up camp, bathing, looking after one another and worship. These people are under the protection of their gods, whom they serve through sacrifice and prayer. As the story progresses, it is said that the final hope of reuniting mother and child is a special ritual, involving music and song. It is strangely stirring, this custom, so strong, in fact, that it brings tears to the mother's eyes.

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According to what we see in the film, desert living is both harsh and astonishingly romantic. Beautifully textured photography and restrained camerawork allow us to appreciate events, as they would happen. It's a leisurely film, although at 90 minutes feels slightly shorter, since directors Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni manipulate us slowly and carefully into integrating ourselves into the lives of these people, and, by the time we're almost comfortable, we have to leave.

The Weeping Camel won't draw crowds. It's too subtle for that, preferring to transpose space and time to introduce us to real and believable characters. The use of non-professional actors, especially the young Ugna (Uuganbaatar Ikhbayar), with his mild obsessing over television, who delivers a delightfully apt closing punchline, lends the film considerable credence and the composed style of storytelling keeps it on a solid path.

Reviewed on: 09 Jul 2004
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The harsh, romantic lives of men and animals in the Gobi desert.
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David Haviland **

Director: Byambasuren Davaa, Luigi Falorni

Writer: Byambasuren Davaa, Luigi Falorni

Starring: Janchiv Ayurzana, Chimed Ohin, Amgaabazar Gonson, Zeveljamz Nyam, Ikhbayar Amgaabazar, Odgerel Ayusch

Year: 2003

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: Germany/Mongolia


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