Thursday, February 25, 2010

Delightful Cultural Experience with a Mongolian Family

Today we hunkered down to watch a DVD from Netflix called The Cave of the Yellow Dog.

In a word......wonderful! It's one of the most poignant movies I've seen about family and culture and life in general. There are so many things I admire about this film!

On Max's level he watched a present-day family struggle for survival and livelihood in Mongolia. The children (three youngsters ages seven (maybe) down to age one will captivate you.

Because it's 1:15 a.m. and I should be in bed, I'm going to cut and paste the description from Amazon here:

"Equal parts documentary, children's story, and narrative drama, Cave of the Yellow Dog is a beautifully filmed adventure that the entire family will enjoy. It's unique on many levels, the most notable being that the charismatic family portrayed in the film are an actual family, and none of them are professional actors. The eldest daughter (played by adorable Nansal Batchuluun) appears to be about 6 or 7 years old. Her life is nothing like that of an American first grader. She goes away to school, returning home during the summers. Nansal cares for younger sister and brother, telling them about how homes in big cities have toilets in the house. She collects dried dung for the family's fire pit and helps her mother cook. And when her father goes to town for a few days, it is Nansal who takes over his chore of leading a herd of sheep to graze in a fuller pasture miles from her home. Nansal is mature for her age, but she is still a child who can't resist cute animals. So when she finds a small black and white pup holed up in a cave, she adopts him and names him Zochor (the Mongolian equivalent of Spot). Her father--worried that the dog may have grown up feral with a pack of wolves--forbids her to keep the puppy and the viewer is never certain whether Nansal and Zochor will be able to remain together. What sets Cave of the Yellow Dog apart from films such as Lassie and Old Yeller is the breathtaking buttes, vistas, and scenery showcased in the film. Watching the apple-cheeked children squeal with laughter as they play in front of their yurt--their collapsible and movable home--viewers get the sense that they wouldn't choose any other life, even though theirs seems filled with hardship for those of us accustomed to the comforts of modern-day living. The Palme d'Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival, this movie is heartwarming and pragmatic at the same time. --Jae-Ha Kim"

You'll develop a deep sense of appreciation for these amazing people and their way of life.

Of course we took time to remind ourselves where Mongolia on the map! Max is also wondering about Buddhism and what that's all about. I smell a unit study on world religions at some point!

I also deeply admired the mother's way of being with her children. In any situation that would drive many of us nuts, she was entirely positive and loving. Her children are lucky beyond words and from outward appearances, it looks like they have so little. Which in the end turns out to be more than most!

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