A Mongolian Tale

"Movie Magazine International" Review

(Air Date: 05/28/97)

By Blue Velvet

Xie Fei, one of China's lesser publicized fourth generation directors, has crafted a gentle yet stirring film called "A Mongolian Tale." Fei adapted the screenplay from an ancient poem about a wild horse who befriended a young boy in a time when all Mongolian men needed good horsemanship to survive. Using a simple subtle language, "A Mongolian Tale" showcases love and life's complex turning points in a film so befitting of the short beautiful poem it was inspired by.

A Mongolian city man heads deep into the vast Mongolian grasslands to leave his young son with an old nanny. Having raised over thirty children none of which were her own, this woman called Nai Nai welcomes the boy into her small farm. Along with the young boy she rears a lovely kind girl close to the boy's age. One night a wild colt miraculously bounds into the farm and decides to stay for good. So the boy finds himself among good company and he grows into a strong young man. Soon enough though he decides to move back to the city to get an education. So excited is he about leaving, he brushes off notions of marriage with his eligible step-sister, promising her that he will return to marry her later. He leaves and then finally returns years after he said he would only to find that things back at the farm are very different from what he had expected. In a burst of impetuous emotional hurt, he flees back to the city, breaking his bonds with Nai Nai, his step-sister, and his horse. It's not until many years later that he has the courage to seek the whereabouts of those he left behind.

"A Mongolian Tale" focuses on love, however unorthodox, as the binding factor between characters. Fei shows familial love between strangers, love felt out of obligation and guilt, and love shaded by shame and betrayal. Despite its emotional churnings, "A Mongolian Tale" doesn't wallow in syrupy scenes or shocking dialogue and the film moves at a natural pace, reflective of the life and culture on the remote terrain. Dalrarsurong who plays the Nai Nai character is especially the film's standout. It's her unpretentious and endearing performance that captures the spirit of "A Mongolian Tale."

Copyright 1997 Blue Velvet

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