Set in a remote region of Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, Luigi Falorni and Byambasuren Davaa’s bittersweet docu-realist The Story of the Weeping Camel chronicles a herder family’s suspenseful attempts to reconnect an adorable baby camel with its perpetually weeping mother. The film’s folkloric opener allows an old man to tell the elegiac story of a rouge deer who borrowed its antlers from a trusting camel. This explains the transfixing gaze of the film’s humped heroes, who ostensibly stare into the ravishing desert horizon in anticipation of their misplaced horns. In this story, and in the details of God’s exclusion of the camel from his Zodiac plan, the film evokes a haunting sense of left-behindedness, which parallels the provincial people’s own disconnect from a world of television and electricity. The purity of the film’s vision (co-opted by National Geographic) is all over Falorni and Davaa’s no-frills but oftentimes startling compositions, their untainted and reverential observations of close-knit nomad living, and a series of magical, almost cosmic associations, none more beautiful than a musical instrument whose strings are plucked by the harsh Mongolian wind, which seemingly propels the crusty-eyed camel to tears. Together, camel and instrument join in the chorus of the film’s rhythmic ode to togetherness, non-cynical communication, and the power of mother’s milk.
The Story of the Weeping Camel is truly a magical film, and on this DVD edition colors are accurately conveyed and sound is well-rounded, boasting some surprisingly energetic surround work. Some edge enhancement is noticeable in spots, but it's certainly nothing to worry about.
Don't know how I feel about what the camel's face does on the DVD's interactive menu, but this docu-realist film remains incredibly transfixing.