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In The Theaters
I just saw it and boy does it...
318

Cuddly Bactrians - The Story of the Weeping Camel
Topic by: IronS
Posted: September 12, 2004 - 6:44 PM PDT
Last Reply: September 13, 2004 - 11:32 PM PDT

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author topic: Cuddly Bactrians - The Story of the Weeping Camel
IronS
post #1  on September 12, 2004 - 6:44 PM PDT  
A leisurely paced but interesting movie I watched recently is The Story of the Weeping Camel, a quasi-documentary in which a Mongolian family in the Gobi Desert tries to help a white calf who has been rejected by his mother. That's the basic plot. The bulk of the film concerns the daily lives of this family. The family members go through their everyday chores, eating, taking care of the animals, braiding a halter for the young camels out of camel hair, living through a sand storm. The animals (camels and goats) are adorable. The children are cute, too. Two boys ride their camels to the Aimak Center to ask for a "violin" player to assist in a ritual to reconcile the baby camel with the mother. We get to experience this trek through the younger boy, Ugna, who has not been there before. He is captivated by many modern things but especially the television, going so far as to ask his father for one after his return. The violin teacher comes and plays for the camels while the young (human) mother sings.

I think the leash the mother ties around the little girl is a great idea. Forget playpens, a long silk sash is a prettier and better solution (until the child learns how to untie knots).

Watching this film in a theater, I was unhappy with the handheld camera and quick pans between close-ups. I was getting a bit motion sick from some of the scenes. More long shots of the desert would have been better (like the sand storm shot). Besides, how close up do I really need to see these camels? I have always thought dromedaries are way cuter but these bactrians have really made a pitch for their species. My boyfriend now thinks the bactrians are cooler but perhaps these are particularly well-behaved due to the gentle way the Mongolians treat them.

This film is not yet available on DVD; to be notified when it is available at GC, go here.
hamano
post #2  on September 12, 2004 - 8:25 PM PDT  
> On September 12, 2004 - 6:44 PM PDT IronS wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> I think the leash... is a great idea. Forget playpens, a long silk sash is a prettier and better solution...
> ---------------------------------

Oy, is that why you went to see the film? Your leash fetish?

Oh, if you want to see the titular camel from the film poster animated very weirdly, and hear some picturesque audio from the Gobi desert setting, CLICK HERE! Beware, the camel will make some very rude sounds at you!
woozy
post #3  on September 12, 2004 - 9:35 PM PDT  
Heh, heh, IronS. I was visiting my uncle and cousins Mon. (my *real* cousins; not my imaginary one) And they discussed this movie (although the only told the story) and guess what my imediate first comment was? (hint: see the Hero thread.)
hamano
post #4  on September 12, 2004 - 9:50 PM PDT  
> On September 12, 2004 - 9:35 PM PDT woozy wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Heh, heh, IronS. I was visiting my uncle and cousins Mon. (my *real* cousins; not my imaginary one) And they discussed this movie (although the only told the story) and guess what my imediate first comment was? (hint: see the Hero thread.)
> ---------------------------------

"Did the camel have nice boobs?"

"Can you use camel milk to make ice cream?" (Actually, camel milk makes very good ice cream, according to this article and a PBS cooking/tourism show I once saw.)
IronS
post #5  on September 12, 2004 - 10:01 PM PDT  
> guess what my imediate first comment was? (hint: see the Hero thread.)
>

"The baby camel can't possibly be this cute in real life."

"Real camels spit more; these must be computer generated."

Or was the comment about the little boy's testicles? Oh, wait, wrong thread.
IronS
post #6  on September 12, 2004 - 10:42 PM PDT  
woozy, was your comment about the singing part or the crying part?

From the official site, Byambasuren Dayaa (one of the filmmakers) said about the ritual: "Since I started to do research on this subject, I didn't hear of any case in which the ritual didn't work out. I spoke to a lot of nomads about this, but I never heard that it didn't work. In our case it took one day. But I know from the old nomads that in other cases it took several days."
woozy
post #7  on September 12, 2004 - 11:52 PM PDT  

> woozy, was your comment about the singing part or the crying part?
>
both. You sort of had to be there but I said to effect "am I supposed to suspend disbelief". I really didn't it mean it as assholeish as that sounds. She discribed the story but only the plot and I was wondering was it supposed to be based on a real story, because as a fiction as she described it seemed kind of far fetched and anyone can tell any far fetched story so if a camel cries to music, or a lost dog walks across country to find it's owner, or a ship wreck victim swims by hand across the atlantic, or whatever, anything could happen. To have an emotional impact there has to be something more (style, emotion, moral, etc).

I only bring this up in light of the hero thread I thought it was amusing I had that reaction. I'm sure this is a good movie and I might even cry during it (it's been known to happen). It was just the way she (the dinner guest) told the story (striaghtforward and sincerely but with no sense of style) that I wanted to know the "meta-story". i.e. what was the film "about".

Okay, so hero was just fine. I was only joking. I can accept internal logic (although if it's weak, "goodness, I accidently rubbed this magic rock and the 20,000 enemy army disappeared. Guess it was a magic rock", it's bad) but and I'm willing to suspend disbelief for minor things. But movies are getting to the point that the may as well but a magic rock. I actually didn't see any summer movies this year but summer movies are nearly always unbearable. A submarine in the venice canals, fallening fifty feet to cement and getting up, skiing in boots ("Tomb Raider"), walking naked in antarctica, etc. aren't just "not believable", they are so bizaarly inconcievable I almost have to scratch my head to wonder what I'm *supposed* to think. It's as if I saw a sperm whale in a fish bowl.

Sorry, I'm really not usually such a jerk.

So, was the movie good? Was the camel crying moving?
IronS
post #8  on September 13, 2004 - 12:30 AM PDT  
> Sorry, I'm really not usually such a jerk.
>

That's okay. :)

> So, was the movie good? Was the camel crying moving?
>

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

It's reported to be inspired by the early films of Robert Flaherty so I guess it depends if you like that kind of film. As for me, I really enjoyed it. The young woman sings and the violin player plays. As she (the singer) and her husband try to bring the mother camel and calf together, the mother camel still rejects the calf, and the whole family watches from the little hill, that was pretty moving for me, that these people would try this hard to reunite the pair. Then, the mother camel finally stops moving away and the singing and music stop as well. The mother camel's eye is shown weeping in close up. Yes, it was moving and my boyfriend thought so, too. But the really moving part was the cries of that young abandoned camel prior to its acceptance by its mother. And every time that camel calf tried to nurse, the mom would move or kick it away. That was sad.

Perhaps my enjoyment of this film is greatly enhanced by not having anything too deep to think about (unlike "What the Bleep Do We Know?").

By the way, although in the movie they referred to the stringed instrument as a violn, it's not really a violin. It has two strings and the instrument is held more like a cello (vertically with the pegs up and the saddle down). The bow is held like that for a bass violin. (In case there are any stringed instrument enthusiasts reading this.)
woozy
post #9  on September 13, 2004 - 12:38 AM PDT  
> > So, was the movie good? Was the camel crying moving?
> >
>
> SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
>
>

Umm, so can you tell me if the movie was good *without* spoilers?
IronS
post #10  on September 13, 2004 - 12:44 AM PDT  
> Umm, so can you tell me if the movie was good *without* spoilers?
>

Yes, I can and yes, it is. :)

It's playing at the Elwood Theater on College Ave. in Berkeley at 7:25 PM (at least until Thursday) if you want to check it out for yourself.
woozy
post #11  on September 13, 2004 - 12:46 AM PDT  
> It's playing at the Elmwood Theater on College Ave. in Berkeley at 7:25 PM (at least until Thursday) if you want to check it out for yourself.
> ---------------------------------

Yes, I saw as I was driving home from my mother's this evening. The Elmwood Theater is my old stomping ground. I grew up three blocks from there and my mother still lives in the neighborhood.

IronS
post #12  on September 13, 2004 - 12:48 AM PDT  
Then you can visit your mom and catch a flick or vice versa.
hamano
post #13  on September 13, 2004 - 12:53 AM PDT  
Or take your mom out for a dinner and a movie!
woozy
post #14  on September 13, 2004 - 12:59 AM PDT  
> Or take your mom out for a dinner and a movie!
> ---------------------------------

Mmm, the holy land has good falafel. And the King Yen was the first "serious" chinese restaurant thirty years ago. Naan 'n Curry just opened and this, after the Tenderloin, the SF financial district, and Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue may be their most upscale location. THen there's mediterainee which has nice pomergranette chicken drummettes. There's good coffee at the roma. Oooh, and the two italian places I haven't tried yet. Mmmm....

Bowwow
post #15  on September 13, 2004 - 11:56 AM PDT  
This movie sounds just like the cute movie that I would love to see. Unfortunately, I don't think it is playing in my town and even if it were, they don't usually allow dogs into the theater (jerks!)

I find it interesting that woozy has such trouble suspending his disbelief. I have a lot of friends who are the same way. Maybe we dogs are just gullible or something?


hamano
post #16  on September 13, 2004 - 1:07 PM PDT  
Cuddly bacteria.... sorry, this was the closest thread I could find....
woozy
post #17  on September 13, 2004 - 1:09 PM PDT  
> On September 13, 2004 - 11:56 AM PDT Bowwow wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> This movie sounds just like the cute movie that I would love to see. Unfortunately, I don't think it is playing in my town and even if it were, they don't usually allow dogs into the theater (jerks!)
>
> I find it interesting that woozy has such trouble suspending his disbelief. I have a lot of friends who are the same way. Maybe we dogs are just gullible or something?
>

Only when it comes to poorly written summer blockbusters. I think there's part of the deep reptilian brain that assumes what is seen is real. Thus we accept movies and watch the narrative. But if something totally incongrous happens, like a human character is walking down the street and he suddenly and inexplicably in the next scenes he's a chicken or he enters a door and upon entering is at the top of mount everest our immediate response is, huh????? how'd that happen. So in a summer block buster when a spaceship zooms by with a doppler roar we think nothing of it as thats what we expect fast moving vehicles to do. So in a summer blockbuster when The Nautalus sails in the venice canals after a scene where we see how huge the nautalus is and the canals we figure are about twenty feet across and six to thirty feet deep, or were laura croft after running in her boots all movie hithces herself to sled dogs and urges them on and doesn't fall foreward on her face but somehow skis in her boots, my reptilian brain just shorts and says, huh???? Which is really the problem for me and honey I shrunk the kids. The kids shrink down and start running. Fine, reptilian brain accepts this with no problem. They jump over a lot of screws and debris that are on the floor. This makes me think, gee there sure is a lot of debris on the floor and that seems unrealistic (it was the screw that did it; I couldn't help but think if someone stepped on it they'd scratch the floor). Then I have to conciously think, well, actually there's always a lot of debris on the floor but we don't notice it because we are big but if we were small we'd see it. So now my concious brain is active so go back to the kids and they are running from a broom. But now that I've conciously been made aware of the debree my reptile brain thinks something is wrong but I can't put my finger on it. Then I realize, oh, the debree isn't being swept away in the air currents. Then my reptilian brain equates the kids with the debris and I'm aware they aren't acting as debris ought to act in air if they are really only 1/4 inch tall. Then later they are lifted the relitive height of the golden gate bridge and they jump into a bowl of milk. My reptilian brain goes, huh?, why isn't he killed or at least knocked unconsious. My concious brain immediately corrects and says he's only the size of an ant-- ants can fall two feet with no trouble, so my reptilian brain switches from the idea of a human falling 300 feet to a teensy weensy human falling two feet. But then he's swimming and floundering in milk as though it were water and my reptilian brain thinking of ants stuck in milk goes, huh???, shouldn't he be half floating/half standing in a thick goo with a dimpled impression around his body?

I do want to see this camel movie. And I was mostly joking about Hero.
Bowwow
post #18  on September 13, 2004 - 1:43 PM PDT  
oh woozy! you make my head spin. oddly, I like that.
JBellows
post #19  on September 13, 2004 - 2:53 PM PDT  
Spoilers:

In the movie, the baby camel grows up to kill the butler with the candlestick, has its memory erased, has strange dreams of wandering the Mongolian desert, only to be cured by a man who oddly looks like Denzel Washington. And then he joins the Army, saves the day, dies of a bullet wound in the hoof.
woozy
post #20  on September 13, 2004 - 7:33 PM PDT  
If I were to post in this thread I'd be the lastest poster in all top five subjects. It's too bad I don't have anything to say so it won't happen. *sigh*
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