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November 2003 - Nr. 11


The Editor
The Youth Forum
Antje berichtet
Vienna Connection
Zurich Connection
K-W & Beyond
Opera York's La Traviata
St. Martin in Canada
Christmas Fairs
The Weeping Camel
Word on the Street
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Who was Mozart?
Dick reports...
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Ham Se det jehört?
Germans shop for Christmas
Of True Love...
"Wheel of Time"
Baroque Dresden
Definition of Culture
Art Cologne 2003
HipHop Competition
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Weihnachten mit Hummel
Decorative "Bierdeckel"
German Rider...
Financial Advice
Fussball-Globus FIFA
MOMA Film Fest

The Story of the Weeping Camel

(Die Geschichte vom Weinenden Kamel)

by Lucille de Saint-Andre

October 9, 2003

Imagine the remote, sweeping South Mongolian Gobi Desert, a family of nomadic shepherds and their herd of camels. The still wide landscape and the close relationship between the family and their herd are so joyful and liberating that you just want to jump into the picture. We saw this lovely film after a string of angst-filled and sexually tedious movies at the recent Toronto International Festival and we loved it. In fact, at the end we applauded with gusto.

The interchange between man and beast, shepherd and camel, reaches its apex during the herd’s spring birth. It also shows the closeness between the individual family members, from grandparents to parents to teenagers to babies in their simple and comfortable tents. The colourful carpets provide a background of the family’s busy chores of taking care of each other and tending their camels.

It is spring in the Gobi Desert and the event of the spring birth has arrived. One young camel suffers through a particularly excruciating birth and family members stand by and help with the delivery. The young camel delivers a rare white calf. She looks at it in total shock then turns in a circle every which way to escape its hungry little mouth. She won’t let it suckle. The family tries to help by holding the mother still, finally milking her but the tiny calf refuses the milk, and rejected, withdraws a little way off, uttering the most heartrending cries. This is particular cruel as we see the other brown calves contentedly suckling and bonding with their mothers.

But wait. There is the ancient ritual of music to soothe the stubborn beast. So the family teenager and his little brother are sent to a distant settlement to summon a musician. We watch the two boys ride their camels through the wide desert. The village opens the eyes of the younger boy to the wonders of unsuspected gadgets and, yes, television. They find the musician who promises to come when he can spare a little time. They return home and he finally roars up on his motorcycle. He plays to the camel mother while the shepherd’s pretty wife strokes her and sings to her. They seem to have hit the right notes because the camel lets herself go, finally feeling loved and understood and weeps big tears. Seeing a close-up of those tears is almost incredible. One loved camel, big tears, and the mother relents and lets her little white calf suckle and all ends well in the Gobi Desert.

This moving tale is made by film students from The Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film München, Germany as their graduation film. Using a fine line between documentary and drama, it offers little dialogue and lets the wonderfully evocative landscape speak for itself. Inspired by Robert Flaherty’s Nannok of the North, it has a keen visual sense of storytelling while capturing the majestic landscape and the simple way of life, which, we hope, does not end with a little boy’s wish of a television antenna in front of his tent.


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