Friday, December 11, 2009

What I've been watching:

A young Kazakh man has just gotten out of the Navy and is ready to settle down on the steppes and be a sheepherder. The only trouble is, he cannot get a herd of sheep until he gets married and there is only 1 eligible girl on the steppe. She thinks he’s got big ears so doesn’t like him. But her mother is the real obstacle. She doesn’t want her daughter living the life of a sheepherder’s wife. This is an amazing film depicting the isolation and rugged beauty of the steppes as well as a sweet portrayal of a boy becoming a man.

I don’t know why a civilian would be allowed to have an extended visit at a front-line military camp but that’s what’s happening in this film. Alexandra goes to visit her grandson at his camp. He’s on duty all day so she’s left to wander at will, and wander she does: to the far reaches of the camp as well as into the neighboring villages. This is a quiet film of gentle beauty. The role of Alexandra was written for and performed by a Russian opera star. She is truly remarkable. But why in the world would you let a little old lady stay at a front-line military camp?

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