… minority opinion? … 

Some Kazakhs in Mongolia use eagles to hunt wild animals, who knew?  i.e.,  the material is totally new to most of us so that’s what’s interesting.  But it’s not really a good movie. The use of drones to photograph high above panoramas of this exotic mountainous part of the earth is disappointing.  In spite of the drama of the landscape, which really is a stunning landscape, the drone photography is predictable and gets tiresome.  There we go, zooming up again — and we lose the mind behind the camera.  The film editing sometimes cuts off understanding a process.

The Nature Channel does this kind of landscape and this view of the animals and birds much better.  I’ve seen a segment on the nature channel in which they’d attached a camera to an eagle and we got the eagle’s view of things – that was thrilling.  Even without that, though, the photography here simply depends on the landscape, there’s no special creative vision behind it.  Same for the subject matter.  The 13-year old girl eagle huntress, Aisholpan,  is certainly courageous and ambitious but we’re always aware she’s acting for the camera.  The most charismatic person in the film is her father.

Some of the up-in-the-sky time could have been used to let us see how this family subsists.  We gather they’re herders — a sheep is sacrificed when eagle is let free after seven years of service — but eagle hunting now isn’t essential, it’s a demanding sport rooted in the past, and the film’s eagle hunting festival is like a rodeo today out west. We can guess that the reason Aisholpan’s family lives in a temporary dwelling in the summer is to graze their herds, but we see almost nothing of what that takes.

It’s also extremely sad to see a fox, a beautiful wild northern fox with a wonderfully thick pelt and tail, hunted in the snow by an eagle under a human’s control, being chased and eventually killed.  I felt bad for the fox as he turned his head, looking back to check on where the eagle that was pursuing him had gotten to.  They say the 13-year old girl who becomes so successful as an eagle hunter, previously a totally male activity, is a role model for girls and others but I question if being great at hunting and killing wild animals is a role model activity, particularly in today’s world.  Of course the context in which this has developed gives a different view of that – it’s difficult hunting!  The wild animals have a chance …. It’s tradition … etc.  But still.  I really felt bad for the fox.

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