Thursday, June 18, 2009


Let me just put in a plug for the movie "Tulpan," currently out in limited release. This film from Kazakhstan is one of the most unusual films I've ever seen. The critics are right that it defies description. Thematically, it's mainly about the tensions between tradition and modernity, and this tension is played out within a family of sheep herders living on the central Asian steppes.

The setting really stays with you. It has to be one of the least appealing environments I've ever seen depicted on film. A cold wind is blowing constantly. Dust devils the size of skyscrapers regularly move past the family's yurt. Little vegetation grows. Water must be brought via tractor. The men work all day tending to the sheep, while the women work all day preparing food. I really, really don't want to live there. And yet you can't help but sympathize with the main character, Asa, who want to marry and raise his own flock of sheep there, even after having seen the world.

I'd recommend reading some reviews, just so you know what you're getting into. (Roger Ebert's is great, as always.) But really, check this film out.

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