Friday, March 23, 2012

The Story of the Weeping Camel

This week's final nature film is a docudrama called The Story of the Weeping Camel. Like Winged Migration, the producers use artistic license in the creation of this film, arranging scenes to tell the story that they want to tell, a sort of Mongolian legend in which traditional music is used to manage a problem associated with a rare white camel calf*. I don't want to tell you what as to save the surprise.

While the plot may be scripted, the setting is authentic. Viewers see nomads from Mongolia's Gobi Desert raising their camels, goats, and sheep and living in their gers. We observe the daily life of four generations who seem to be quite prosperous. Inside their gers, are colorful blankets and painted furniture. They may not have been moved recently. Outside the scenery is stark and dry, but the herds seem large and healthy. Camels drive the pump that lifts water from their well. The herders trim hair off the camels to weave their own ropes. The scene seems timeless, except for some bright plastic barrels and the radio that the grandfather keeps. We learn late in the film that they could have a television, but the elders fear the children would waste their time.

The pace of the movie is slow compared with Hollywood fare, but that is a big part of the charm. You can learn much more about the film and life in Mongolia at the National Geographic website.

The Story of the Weeping Camel. New Line Home Entertainment, 2005. 87 min. ISBN 078065014X.

*In the film, the baby camel is referred to as a colt, but I found that zoos consistently use the term calf in their postings on the website ZooBorns. National Geographic also uses calf in its website description of the film.

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