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oscar run xiv: the story of the weeping camel (byambasuren davaa and luigi falorni, 2003)

The Story of the Weeping Camel is not my kind of movie, so take everything I say here with a grain of salt.

The movie takes place in the desert. It stars camels.

If you remember those awful Disney "documentaries" about animals back in the day ... Joey the Friendly Ferret or whatever ... the ones where the animals are anthropomorphized and the voice-over narration is excruciatingly obvious and fake plots are introduced to interest the audience ... well, if you hated those, you might have wished for someone to come along and make an anti-Disney-documentary. The Story of the Weeping Camel is your dream come true, and dream is the operative word, because if you're like me, you'll have a hard time staying awake.

The filmmakers are influenced by Robert Flaherty, and apparently as with Nanook of the North, not everything in Weeping Camel is "pure" documentary ... some stuff was staged. Maybe this doesn't matter, but I confess (and again, this movie wasn't made for people like me, so ignore the following if you want) that I didn't know about the fake stuff until after I'd seen it, but I was very suspicious of the big ending (not to give anything away, but it has to do with the title of the film). This means while most people who watch this movie are weeping themselves, I was rolling my eyes.

Which was preferable to what I was doing with my eyes during the middle of the film ... I was fighting to keep them open. The absence of Disneyfication means the film isn't hokey, which is good, and it's pretty interesting seeing another culture. But at some point, the lack of drama in the film got to me. Shot of the desert, shot of the camels, shot of the nomads. Shot of the desert, camels in the desert, nomads with camels, nomads in the desert with camels. The damn thing seemed endless. I know a lot more now than I did before about life in Mongolia, and that's no small feat. But for me, this movie dragged, and when it didn't drag, it felt fake.

Which likely reflects me more than the film.


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