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Story of the Weeping Camel

Director:

Germany-Mongolia| 2003. Subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 90 mins.


There’s a disarming charm to this virtually wordless drama from the distant wilds of Mongolia. It’s a tale of two coexisting species, camels and humans, and it’s surprisingly fascinating, funny and emotional. And it’s fairly guaranteed to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
At the end of the birthing season, an extended family of nomadic shepherds in the Gobi Desert gathers to help the last female camel give birth. But it’s a very difficult delivery, and she rejects the white colt, leaving it to follow her helplessly around, moaning with hunger. The shepherds try everything to get the mother to reunite with her offspring, eventually sending two young boys on a long camel ride to a nearby village to get a musician to help them.
While the premise is disarmingly simple, the film resonates with an astonishing complexity, even though there’s so little dialogue and the two main characters are camels! But these animals have hugely expressive faces, and their interaction with each other and their human hosts is actually very meaningful. With their huge brown eyes and fluffy fur, they’re almost like gigantic cocker spaniel puppies! Meanwhile, the filmmakers (who met at film school in Germany) capture the characters and the setting with gorgeous cinematography, expert sound mixing and accomplished editing that makes the film feel like both an intimate documentary of everyday life in the Gobi Desert and an engaging story of the interrelationship between man and nature.

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