The Story Of The Weeping Camel (2003) plays out a timeless human-animal bond in the heart of Mongolia’s Gobi desert. Directed by Byambasuran Daava, the story is centred around the birth of a rare white camel that is rejected by its mother who had undergone a difficult delivery. The solution is a violinist! Only his music can woo the mother camel.
The story unfolds through heart-rendering scenes as the family of nomads, to whom the camels belong, tries to reunite the mother and the abandoned colt.
This film is a docudrama treading a fine line between fiction and nature/ethnographic documentary. Directly inspired by Robert Flaherty’s style in Nanook of the North (1922), the directors weaved the scenes together by engaging non-actor characters in carefully planned mise-en-scène.
Even though a few scenes were possible re-enactments, the director said they were uncertain about the narrative’s resolution while filming.
“The musical ritual is being used in several cases. Of course we wanted the mother-colt problem to happen. But we knew that at least one occurrence will happen, either after the death of the mother camel through sickness, or after the death of a colt by wolves” (Daava, 2004).
Unlike other nature documentary prototypes which construct a reality based purely on natural animal, insect and plant domain, The Story Of The Weeping Camel has personified the camels with human-like traits- love, friendship and heroic goals. In this way, audience enter the narrative through pov of the camel colt, and are able to identify with its struggles.
Absence of a voice-over narration makes this film’s soundscape unique, since ‘god’s voice’ is typical to nature docos. Occassional silence, interspersed with a windy ambient sound, complements the visual of the vast barren desert and supports the observational mode of the doco. Interestingly, for an observational film, the plot remains dramatic untill last minute!
You can leave a comment to share your review of the film.