Friday, September 29, 2006

Film: Cave of the Yellow Dog

This is another of those films set in Mongolia. Wolves have attacked the flock of these nomadic herders. Their little daughter comes home from school, and she finds a little puppy dog hiding in a cave. She wants to keep him (obv.), naming him Zolchor, which means Spot in foreign; her father, however, fears that the dog will attract back the wolves, and demands that the dog be sent away. Somehow they never quite get round to this.

That's about it for plot stuff. The main thing of the film is the lush cinematography and the anthropological depiction of these people's lives. That aspect of it is interesting.. there is very much a sense that their lives are in transition, with modernity extending its tentacles into their lives. At one point, the father is talking to some old lads who mention how loads of their neighbours have sold up and moved to the town. Yet everything seems to unproblematic - you do not really get a sense that people are lying awake at night in terror of being absorbed into the cash nexus.

A particular favourite moment is when teeny daughter is left on her own to mind teeny tiny brother, who then goes on the rampage. Teeny daughter has all her work cut out stopping him from laying waste the family shrine, complete with picture of the Dalai Lama and statue of Buddha. The baby puts the latter of these in his month, leading his sister to say "Stop that! You can't eat God!"

The sense of animist culture that surrounds these people was interesting as well. When they break camp for the winter, they thank the earth for looking after them through the summer.

Anyway, the film has a happy ending when the little dog proves his worth and is then allowed to come and live with them forever.

1 comment:

Ammonite said...

Mongolia *and* a cute dog? This just made it to the top of my watch list.

From an anthropoligical perspective it seems a bit odd to worry that the dog might attract wolves, since the consensus is that man domesticated dogs because they drove away predator/competitors. But I was just talking to my cousin who lives on the Cree reservation. They have a big problem with feral dogs up north. If you let a dog roam without its lead pretty soon ity meets some dodgy doggy friends. The wolf/dog distinction breaks down very quickly indeed.