The Story of the Weeping Camel

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 29, 2015

Repeated viewings aren’t diminishing this film. It is true and beautiful. This kind of lightning doesn’t really strike twice, unfortunately—Nanook was really the only one of Flaherty’s films to be any kind of a hit, wasn’t it? But a lack of subscribers doesn’t mean you’re not right. When you think about it it all seems so simple. Interact and collaborate. Let your curiosity and admiration/affection operate in balance. (If you don’t have any of those things, get out.) Don’t rush anything, resist the urge to gild the lily. The result will be a document (even if it’s not a documentary, exactly) of individuals in a community, in the midst of a moral order, in a world full of heavenly intimations. We could detail, but that would only lead to a complete summary of the film. We had better call special attention to the processes that are here portrayed, and the photographing of people and animals in these big, elemental spaces. Singing that baby to sleep!

And here’s an advance on Flaherty, even. TV and technology represent, TV and technology are the beginning of the end for this people and their way of life. They are harbingers of cultural eclipse. As such, the antenna the family put up outside their yurt at film’s end is portentous to the point of tragedy. But it’s also echoes the incomparably sweet conclusion to Yazujiro Ozu’s Good Morning. Get your kids that game console! You love them, and it’ll make them happy. And by the way, or of course, parents and kids in Mongolia feel the exact same sets of feelings that they do in Japan, or where you live yourself.