© X-Verleih/Warner Bros.

Die Höhle des gelben Hundes
Germany 2005

Opening 28 Jul 2005

Directed by: Byambasuren Davaa
Writing credits: Byambasuren Davaa
Principal actors: Babbayar Batchuluun, Nansal Batchuluun, Nansalmaa Batchuluun, Buyandulam Daramdadi, Batchuluun Urjindorj

A young girl befriends a stray dog. The story is as simple as that, but it’s also more complicated. After directing her successful The Story of the Weeping Camel, Byambasuren Davaa once again found further inspiration in her home country, Mongolia. Here she filmed the Batchuluun family: father, mother, and three children, nomads living close to nature. The oldest child, seven-year-old Nansa, discovers a stray dog which she names Zochor or “colorful.” Her father refuses to keep it, saying that it could have been raised by wolves and would be a danger to the family’s sheep. The film starts slowly, reflective of life on the wind-swept steppes of the north western part of the country. A granny tells the tale of the yellow dog; she also says the chances of being reborn as a person are the same as the chances of a rice kernel sticking to the tip of a needle. The father buries a dead dog with its tail under its head, saying, “It will be reborn as a person with a pigtail.” These stories as well as other cultural identities could disappear as Mongolia becomes westernized and the population moves into the cities. I wondered: why did the small son wear pigtails with red ribbons? Is that also a story?

Enjoy this film for the beautiful scenery, the calm family response to problems and the freedom of children growing up with few toys and many responsibilities. If you don’t believe that it’s fascinating to watch someone dismantle a yurt (tent) and load it onto ox carts, go see the movie. Afterwards, you will resolve to simplify your own life. The Hamburg Museum of Ethnology (Völkerkunde) at Rothenbaumchaussee 64 has a real yurt on display which you can reserve and sleep in overnight. This film won prizes at the Munich film festival and, although it doesn’t make the same impact as the Weeping Camel film, simply because it’s more of the same, it’s definitely worth watching. (Becky Tan)

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