Combustible Celluloid
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With: Batchuluun Urjindorj, Buyandulam Daramdadi, Nansal Batchuluun, Nansalmaa Batchuluun, Babbayar Batchuluun
Written by: Byambasuren Davaa
Directed by: Byambasuren Davaa
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Mongolian with English subtitles
Running Time: 93
Date: 06/28/2005

The Cave of the Yellow Dog (2006)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Lost and Hound

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This wonderful follow-up feature from one of the directors of The Story of the Weeping Camel (2004) uses the same quasi-documentary techniques (clearly inspired by Nanook of the North) to tell a fictitious story. Shot in Mongolia, The Cave of the Yellow Dog depicts a nomadic family of sheep farmers. While collecting dried dung for fuel, the eldest daughter (Nansal Batchuluun) finds an abandoned dog in a cave and brings it home. Her father (Batchuluun Urjindorj) is less than enthusiastic about the idea, since the dog may have been living with wolves and may bring an attack upon his herd. As with the previous film, Byambasuren Davaa keeps encroaching capitalism at the edges of the picture. Other farmers have abandoned their trade, no longer able to make a living wage -- which is the reason pet dogs are left behind. And when the farmer's wife (Buyandulam Daramdadi) requests a new ladle, he brings a plastic one that can't stand up to the heat of the pan. At the same time, Davaa also concentrates blissfully on those fleeting moments of life (playing children, cooking, etc.) that most movies excise in favor of forwarding the plot. This gentle, observant storytelling is perfectly appropriate for kids (although there are subtitles to be read).

DVD Details: Tartan Video's 2007 DVD happily comes with an optional English-dubbed language track so that small children can enjoy this film, too. Other extras include an interview with the director and a trailer.

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