Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on January 11th, 2006
The film focuses on the life of a family of nomads in the Gobi Desert region of Mongolia. Their camels are vital to their well-being, and when a mother rejects her newborn white calf, this is a serious problem. Two sons set off to a distant village to summon a magician is summoned, who, it is to be hoped, can perform the necessary miracle to save the calf.
This film is another testament to the virtue of simplicity and restraint in storytelling. There are no histrionics (even the ca…els seem pretty phlegmatic). The movie is not a documentary, but it has the feel of one, thanks in no small part to the very authentic portrayal of the life of the people. The authenticity of a documentary with the emotional impact of a drama, coupled with beautiful cinematography: a winning combination.
The soundtrack is in the original Mongolian, and comes in both 2.0 and 5.1 versions. The sound is simple, but very effective. This is not, of course, a film about big, loud sound design, but the sense of environment is nonetheless superb, as we are surrounded by wind and the calls of animals. A well-nigh perfect balance is achieved here: the surround elements are never intrusive, but they are deeply immersive.
The picture is good, but not quite as successful as the sound. What is good is that the colours are quite extraordinary – strong, vibrant and gorgeous. The contrasts, blacks and flesh tones are equally good, and there is no grain or visible edge enhancement. What is unfortunate, however, is the aspect ratio: 1.77:1 widescreen, but non-anamorphic. On regular 4:3 televisions, this isn’t a problem, but it becomes an issue on widescreen TVs. The necessary blow-up of the picture results in a slight loss of sharpness, but to make things worse, if the picture is expanded to fill the screen, the subtitles become unreadable.
Nothing here but a still gallery. The menu is scored and has some limited animated. The transitions are fully animated, but not scored.
A moving, gorgeous film, that overcomes the unfortunate compromises made with the aspect ratio.
Special Features List
- Still Gallery