Tulpan (2008)

October 29th, 2008
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Sergei Dvortsevoy | Drama | Kazakhstan | 120mins

If you thought that Borat had Kazakhstan sewn up then think again. Dvortsevoy won the Prix Un Certain Regard for this endearing picture of life on the windswept southern Steppe for a family of nomadic herders.

This film is so cute you’ll want to pick it up and cuddle it but preferably with gloves on. Apart from a touching script and great performances not least from the animals it features mouth-to-mouth resuscitation with a newborn lamb and gets down and dirty with camels, a real tornado, endless sandstorms and some very grim weather indeed. Powerful wide-angled visuals combine with the cosy interiors of the yurt, the tent where the all live.

Asa, the gentle boy with a vivid imagination, has completed his navel service and wants to join his family of herders. In order to become a shepherd he must find a wife and women are thin on the ground in this part of the world. Infact the nearest one for several hundred miles is Tulpan. She doesn’t fancy Asa largely because of his ears but it may be because he talks too much. With the help of his friend Boni he tries to win her over. The alternative is a move to the city where he wouldn’t have his family’s love and support let alone a reliable job.

In contrast to the incredible hardships that the herders suffer they are entirely without anger or aggression. Their gentleness and perseverance is totally inspirational. There is no alternative but to learn to live in harmony with each other and with nature as a whole and therein lies the magic of their existence. Dvortsevoy succeeds with skill and patience in eliciting both humour and compassion in this exquisite debut feature.


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