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The Story of the Weeping Camel

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According to Tim, in the Calendar Events, this releases on "home video" tomorrow. As in, walk into your local Blockbuster and pick it up on DVD? That would seem far too easy, considering how I've been badgering art house managers to run this again for the past six months.

I mean, it was here for one week.

-s.


In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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This film is such a delight, and easily made my top 10 list this year. I think because it's so perfect and self-contained, though, it wasn't especially easy to write about. I hope to write more (or better) sometime.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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s'funny - it came out in cinemas over there first, but we've had it on DVD here for about 10 weeks now. And they had a few copies at our local blockbuster. I can be precise on this as it prompted me to find out what Blockbuster's selling on time frame was (4 weeks after release is the earliest - at least in the UK FWIW), and then I engaged in a heavy programme of hint dropping in the run up to Christmas. Bingo - A copy sits on my shelf.

Matt

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We watched this tonight at our movie discussion group. I am still just blown away by the ending. I don't understand how that works. Its fascinating.

I used a quote from your review Jeffrey in the discussion:

"there


"I am quietly judging you" - Magnolia

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spoilers1.gif

Saw this one last night. I agree with the majority here, that this is a beautiful look at a fascinating culture. I, too, was blown away by the scene of the traditional musician and the non-maternal mother camel, though perhaps in a different way than other folks here have related. As someone who is not a neuropsychologist but knows more about neuroanatomy and neurochemistry than the average person, I was left wondering about what are evidently the common mammalian brain chemistries and structures that makes us respond physiologically and emotionally to certain types of music. The fact that the 4th movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony makes me feel tender and misty-eyed, how much of this is a hard-wired response to a slow tempo and certain string instrument sounds, producing a response akin to that of the weeping camel? I'm certainly not a reductionistic materialist, but this seemed an unavoidable question evoked by this film for me.


To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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I really liked it. At first, I didn't have the subtitles on...which was interesting. Even once they were on, there weren't that many. The expressions were so rich, I could probably have watched without them, anyway. It was refreshing to just relax in a movie and not wait for some big twist or emotional manipulation. Beautiful film.

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Just for the record, and just for fun, it is worth noting that I have seen this film twelve or more times and have never really seen it. Genesis Elise, my two year-old girlie, wants to be like Daddy and watch movies. She is sick of Einstein, Wiggles, Elmo and Baby Tad (sorry, Asher) and will only watch "the camo, story of weepee camo." I usually fast forward the birth scene, but other than that there are a lot of things for her to really enjoy in this movie: the slow, quiet camera is so much better for her than anything on Nickelodeon (which we try not to watch), she loves the animlas, the thunderstorm, the little baby that cries when it is put on its leash, the fireplace, the soup, the prayers, and the people. I don't know how I'm ever going to get this thing back to Netflix without causing a toddler mini-ruckus.

-s.


In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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I loved this film from the first moment I saw it


Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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But I was surprised Stef, that your two year-old daughter would be taken by it.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Stef,

I am very impressed. Cheryl and I have two grown sons now, but when they were young we limited media as well and now they are both readers and not "compelled" by either TV or video games. They have, predictably, become lovers of film and friends!

I will be praying with you in this most important adventure!

Denny


Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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I have two daughters myself. I have a three year old, she will be 4 on June 14th, and a 16 month old. I had watched the movie and my daughter came in and asked me what I was watching. I told her it was a movie about a camel. She sat on my lap, and I read her the subtitles. She was absolutely enthralled. She kept asking if the movie had a happy ending; I said it did. She told her mom and grandparents all about the movie. She asked if they wanted to watch it. "It is kinda sad," she said, "but it has a happy ending." She probably watched it 5 times before I returned it to Netflix.

What I found interesting was that when I had Two Brothers on she only intermittingly paid any attention. However, with The Story of the Weeping Camel she was engaged and asking questions.

I did not fast forward through the camel birth scene because she was at the birth of her sister. My wife had our daughter very early in the morning and Emily who was just over two at the time was wide awake and very involved. When the doctor arrived he was shocked that she was awake and very excited. She stood at the head of the bead when Kaylie was born. After the birth the nurses would ask her what happened and she would say "Mommy pushed Kaylie out and Dr. DeSanto helped." So the camel while the birth is a bit disturbing she understood what was happening.

I think the power of the movie for children is in the simple way it shows life. Children recognize the way the parents interact with the children and the way the children interact with each other. My daughter was also fascinated by the camels.


If there were no God, there would be no Atheists.

G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

I'm still an atheist, thank God.

Luis Bunuel (1900 - 1983)

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I bought this DVD last weekend (thanks to a

Blockbuster gift card and the previously viewed

sale) and finally got around to watching it this

weekend.

During the first half, I really wasn't sure what to

think, the concept of the birth of a camel was not

really all that exciting to me, but at the same time,

I was drawn in by the mystery of what they would

do -- and by the beauty. . . too pretty not to watch.

By the end, I was moved. And after reading all of

your posts, I'm wishing I had kids to show this to!

spoilers1.gif

I was so intrigued by the camel's crying. I think I

could have just watched a shot of her for half an

hour or so. Fascinating.

The ritual scene was also very touching. As a music

fan, I was very excited to see the effects song can

have -- I kept thinking "wow, music really is a gift

from God."

I'm still trying to figure out how much of this was

documentary and how much was scripted. It felt

completely natural to me.

I did wonder about the dialogue on TVs versus having

a camera in their faces.

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Watched The Saltmen of Tibet last night. Reminded me a lot of Weeping Camel. Actually, I liked Saltmen better, but then I was so-so on Weeping Camel.


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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I'm going to actually have to buy it because you-know-who asks about it around once a week for the last two months since it's gone back to Netflix.

-s.


In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Yes, and they Sell Out and buy a Satellite Dish!!!

Denny


Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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Just got around to seeing this. I fell asleep while the kids were going off to the town, and watched the last half hour last night.

Anyone ever hear how much of this was scripted vs. documented? I noticed credits for a script consultant and for a writer.

One complaint--the subtitles were a big pain. The DVD did not start them automatically--and by the time we got them on I missed the old guy's speech at the beginning. And too little of the dialogue was translated--so each time people talked for awhile without translation I got impatient and wondered if the blasted DVD was having issues or if they really decided not to translate for some reason.

On the whole I liked it, and wasn't bothered by the "strong pagan worldview". ;)

In addition to the positive comments above, I really appreciated the sound mix. No music, and that constant bass line of the wind. It was this more than anything else that was a transportative agent for me in the film. This all prepares the ears for the ritual scene, where the mother camel ceases barking to moan or hum in tune with the violinist's instrument.

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Anyone ever hear how much of this was scripted vs. documented? I noticed credits for a script consultant and for a writer.
I really want to know the answer to this question. I first saw the film under the impression that it was a documentary and LOVED it. Then a friend told me it wasn't fully a documentary and I felt betrayed. I instantly despised the movie. Now, hearing above that the ritual scene may at least be real I'm willing to rethink my rejection and give it another chance.

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Well, if I remember right, the filmmakers were up-front about having scripted some of it from the beginning.

But I understood that to mean that they went out there looking for a particular situation, structured their filming to deliberately tell a story, and GOT the story they'd hoped for. That doesn't mean that the family isn't real, the interactions aren't typical, and that the ritual is staged.

I don't feel any of the betrayal with this film that I felt with Herzog's The White Diamond, where much of what is made to look spontaneous and discovered was merely the stuff of Herzog's own imagination. Weeping Camel feels like a documentary slightly scripted in order to represent what's really going on with that family, whereas The White Diamond feels like a documentary until you learn that the characters you meet are just repeating lines that Herzog has fed them, and who knows what they're actually like or what they might actually say or do in any given situation? Weeping Camel feels like an act of humble service, honoring a family and a tradition. The White Diamond feels like Herzog elevating himself and imposing his ideas and words on others.

Checking the NYTimes archived review, I see that it says they're "mixing recreated scenes with documentary footage." So I assume that they've just staged a few things to get the whole story on camera. Most of the film is stuff they just happened to document.

From the review of an impressive film reviewer named Doug Cummings:

The film was directed by two Munich Film School students with a number of short films to their credit, Byambasuren Davaa is Mongolian herself, and Luigi Falorni (who also lensed the film's luminous cinematography) is Italian. After researching for some time, they settled on a family living in the desert who owned 60 camels and 300 sheep and goats. "I never told them what they had to do," Davaa explained, "everyone has their own creativity within them. It was up to me to extract that creativity. I would never tell them what to say, for example. Everything they say comes from within and is completely authentic." Re-enactments were largely saved for minor, connecting scenes, but the major events of the plot center around a camel's behavior, and were therefore unscripted and filmed as they occurred.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I do recall seeing an interview (not sure where) in which Byambasuren Daava (one of the co-directors, from Mongolia) spoke of her hope that they'd be able to film a Hoos ceremony - but nobody really expected that to happen. They had very limited shooting time and lucked out (if you want to put it that way) in the birth of the white camel, Botok, and other events that are portrayed in the film.

One of my favorite little touches in the film: the shot where the mother takes a long-handled brush and swipes the sand off the ger (yurt) cover. Details like that really made the film hit home for me.

That is fascinating about the time of the ceremony - since it is the focus of the film! I didn't know that.

I completely agree with the little touches. I loved this film. My wife, however, calls it "Weeping Camel, Sleeping Audience."

Here is my review.

Denny


Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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This just showed up from Netflix after I put it in the queue a long long time ago and the whole family loved this.

My wife noted that the film never really showed how the family obtained income (selling goats or milk, camel wool, or what). But the obvious purchase of expensive technology at the end of the film made me wonder if the family actually received compensation from the filmmaker that allowed them to afford the items in question. Would that scene have even been possible without the filmmakers. How much did the filmmaking process itself actually change the family and the documentary.

I was reminded of The Mission where the native tribes were used and paid for their acting and filming and how that changed (westernized) the tribe itself and that actually could have been said to be against some of themes of the film. There is an excellent documentary revealing that (and even a labor dispute with the tribe) on the special features of that film.

I loved that there was no voiceover. The filmmaker recognized it wasn't needed, that the pictures, bleats and cries of the animals and people, and the mongolian wind said enough.

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