I found "The Story of the Weeping Camel" fascinating.
This film is really a docudrama, and one which feels like a dramatic narrative film, rather than a documentary with dramatic force.
Note that the difference can be felt in terms of slightly staged or recreated events, which one felt had happened, even though it was only later I found out was so. The important bit is that you felt it was too polished for it to be a simple account of a nomadic family in Mongolia who tries to reconcile a rare white, colt camel -- named Botok -- and its mother, after the latter rejects her child.
You might too, if you saw hooves coming out of your uterus.
What makes this docudrama worthy of being watched is:
- Firstly, how many films on Mongolia are out there? Especially that do not include references to Genghis Khan and his Hunnish tribes. Not many, my friends. This is it.
- Secondly, the translation of the Mongolian is sparse to the point of being a "silent" film. It gives it an Aesop's Fables quality, of storytelling and oral tradition, which to us unaccustomed to Mongolian culture anyway, seems mesmeric. It forces you to pay attention and you find your internal monologue oddly quiet, as you just OBSERVE.
It's easy to look at this documentary as a kind of latter-day Nanook of the North, a stunning work from 1922, which, when I saw it, changed my life forever, and how I see the film medium.
The majesty is there, but instead of the incisive force of a little-known subject matter, this version is more lyrical, more gentle.
Quite possibly, though, the very last scene, which comes after the documentary ends, and the title credits have begun, ruins the entire project. I'm enough of a late-Twentieth-Century product to shudder at something precious and timeless being lost with the introduction of modernity. Once you make that step, you can never go back to the way it was. Ever.
Watch it, and then come back and let me know if you liked the Weeping Camel.