Combustible Celluloid
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With: Janchiv Ayurzana, Chimed Ohin, Amgaabazar Gonson, Zeveljamz Nyam
Written by: Byambasuren Davaa, Luigi Falorni
Directed by: Byambasuren Davaa, Luigi Falorni
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild thematic content
Language: Mongolian with English subtitles
Running Time: 90
Date: 06/29/2003

The Story of the Weeping Camel (2004)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Getting over the Hump

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Set in Mongolia's Gobi desert, this wonderfully calm andsimple film tells the story of a mama camel who rejects her baby after adifficult birth, and refuses to nurse. The nomadic herders must send for aviolinist to perform a ritual that will save the little snow-white calf.Directed by two Munich film school graduates, Byambasuren Davaa and LuigiFalorni, the film owes a great deal to Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North. It's relentlessly staged and often faked, but ituses these methods to get at a specific reality. The nomad's lives are sorelaxingly gentle and ritualistic that the film gets by with very littledialogue and subtitles. Hence, it's a very good film for children (except,perhaps, for the birthing scene). Yet, like Ousmane Sembene (Moolaad´┐Ż), the filmmakers cleverly allow the grown-up threatof capitalism to creep into their film in the form of the family's youngestboy, Ugna, who, during his trip to the village, falls in love with televisionand later plays "shop" with a friend. But it's the two camels thatsteal the film with their uncanny, expressive screen presence. The small one'sheartbreaking attempts to win over its mother just may cause weeping in theaudience.

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