Of camels and border collies
Last night I watched the SBS program on TV of 'The Story of the Weeping Camel'. I had heard about it a couple of years ago but missed seeing it. It was delightful, slow-moving but a beautiful story of a Mongolian family living in a desert place with their herds. I loved the part where the mother is singing to her child and of course the therapeutic use of music in the last 15 minutes of the film. It reminded me of our indifferent nurturing of family at times.
From The Age - The Story Of The Weeping Camel
Robin Oliver , reviewer
June 9, 2008
This is a story of a nomadic family tending flocks of sheep, goats and camels on the fringes of Mongolia.
Tuesday June 10
You may have been told that this is a perfectly lovely film. That's acceptable advice, though perfection is a slippery customer and here is achieved only in four or five substantial sequences. Happily, these combine to make The Story Of The Weeping Camel essential viewing, though it also means sitting through much that is of little consequence to the main story. It runs for 87 minutes, survives a languid start and, oddly, comes to a somewhat abrupt ending just as we are loving every second.
This is a partly planned and largely scripted story of a nomadic family tending flocks of sheep, goats and camels on the fringes of desert country in southern Mongolia. Luck comes into it for after a difficult delivery, a shaggy brown camel named Igen Tenne, gives birth to Botok, an albino colt, and in sad scenes of rejection refuses to have anything to do with such a strangely coloured creature and denies him a good feed. Botok is kept alive by hand feeding from camel milk served in a goat horn but it is not enough.
The family decides that young son Dude shall ride a camel to the nearest town, do some shopping for grandpa and hire the best violinist he can find to serenade Igen Tenne with traditional camel music and soothe her into accepting her baby. It'll be a big cross-country adventure and Dude's excited younger brother, Ugna, is allowed to go along. He'll buy an ice-cream cone - he asks the price: 250 tugrugs - and, seeing television for the first time, decides to ask his father to buy a set. Dude thinks the cost - 20 or 30 sheep - will rule that out. They choose Mukbayar for their violinist and so we now approach the fabulous finale with gorgeous deep sounds from a two-string fiddle.
The family knows this groaning music has worked when tears well up in Igen Tenne's eyes. It's a wonderful moment, not to be missed.
From Rotten Tomatoes website
Synopsis: Effortlessly blending drama, nature documentary, and ethnographic film, THE STORY OF THE WEEPING CAMEL weaves a magical tale about a nomadic Mongolian family who reunite a rejected baby camel with its mother. When a mother camel refuses to sustain her child, the keepers of the camels often reunite them in a ritual with folk music and chanting, the results of which elicit deep emotion--even causing the mother camel to weep real tears. Exploring more than just traditional ritual, this film speaks to the very nature of love--the baby camel cannot survive without his mother, just as no animal or person can. Directors Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni drew upon the documentary style of Robert Flaherty (NANOOK OF THE NORTH), who recreated events to comprehensively portray his subjects. The pair tirelessly filmed spontaneous events for much of the mother-baby story, but chose to recreate certain moments in the family's daily life. A particularly humorous and insightful example involves a young boy who clearly feels conflicted between his family life and his desire for a more Western life. The film creates a contrast between the two, showing the boy listening to traditional fables in his family's tent, but then dreaming about owning a television. This spare film provides a visually enchanting and unique learning experience.
Genre: Foreign Films
Director: Byambasuren Davaa, Luigi Falorni
Screenwriter: Luigi Falorni, Byambasuren Davaa