Non-glitzy title but a touching story in `Weeping'

Film looks at camel that rejects baby after difficult birth


July 23, 2004|By Jay Boyar | Jay Boyar,ORLANDO SENTINEL

This month's prize for least-glitzy title goes to The Story of the Weeping Camel.

In case you were thinking the title is some sort of metaphor, please be advised that the movie actually does tell the story of a camel - two of them, in fact. I can't reveal whether they weep; that would spoil the ending.

Set in modern times in the Gobi Desert of South Mongolia, the film looks in on a pregnant brown-haired, two-hump camel that brings forth a snow-white colt in a difficult birth.

As camel lovers well know, a mother camel will sometimes reject her baby after such a birth. And that's what happens here.

Basically, that's it. Still, even if camel croquettes are a regular part of your diet, you can't help but be at least a little touched by this unhappy situation.

While the film does focus on the camels, it sometimes drifts over to the tribe of nomadic shepherds to whom the animals belong. The humans are like a Greek chorus: They comment on the camels and fill us in on details of desert life.

These people eat, drink, pray, bathe, dance, play cards and smoke cigarettes. Eventually, a musician arrives to perform the ritual of the weeping camel. The shepherds believe the music will help the mother camel accept her child and that, if she does, she will weep.

Again, no hints.

There is a distinctive allure to a simple story simply told. And while it isn't always easy to get used to the slower natural rhythms this film celebrates, its cumulative effect is undeniable.

Luigi Falorni, the director/cinematographer, captures a beautiful image, with the sun appearing like a flaming ball set against a pale-orange sky above a powder-blue horizon. Another especially striking scene displays a large camel's head in the foreground with a small circle of the moon in the distance.

So besides the award for its non-glitzy title, The Story of the Weeping Camel also easily takes this month's prize for best camel close-up.

The Orlando Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Weeping Camel

Directed by Byambasuren Davaa, Luigi Falorni

Released by Think Film

Rated PG (some mild thematic content)

Time 90 minutes

Sun Score * * 1/2

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