Posted at 9:57 PM on June 8, 2008
by Euan Kerr
Nothing much happens in "The Story of the Weeping Camel." The actual weeping lasts just a fraction of a second. Yet what a magical film it is.
Released four years ago in the US, Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni's documentary film about a herding family living on the edge of the Gobi Desert is slow paced, but its tiny details reveal a whole lot about the family's life, and by reflection, our own.
The family keeps bactrian camels, huge russet colored beasts with thick coats and an ungainly design which makes them perfect for the deserts challenging climate.
When a rare white calf is born and is then rejected by its mother, the family has to puzzle out what to do.
Watching the film allows us to see people living a lifestyle which has changed little over the centuries, and also see the encroachments of the larger world in the form of radios, televisions, and motorbikes.
To a western eye it might seem strange that people would choose to live in such a forbidding place, but it quickly becomes clear that they probably would have little inclination to live anywhere else.
A trip to the other side of the world and back all in 90 minutes? How can you refuse?