Saturday, December 16, 2006

The power of music

Just watched 'Das weinende Kamel' (the weeping camel), a story set in the Gobi desert in Mongolia, with Mongolian actors (actually a real Mongolian family). They live of breeding camels. These are particularly cuddly camels (though perhaps it was also filmed in the spring, since everyone who met anyone asked 'and how are you surviving the spring' - much like 'how do you do').

Lots of camel mums have babies, but one of them won't let her baby near her to feed. Nothing can be done, until the family remembers an old folk remedy....the two young sons, one not looking older than 7 or 8, are sent off to the nearest town (a day's or two camel ride away) to find a horsehead violin player. A horsehead violin has a trapeze-shaped body, two strings, interesting f-holes, and a scroll shaped like a horse's head.

They find one in the local music school, where he is instructing a recalcitrant group of students in the playing of this instrument. He finds a replacement to take his classes, and the next day rushes out to the countryside on his motorbike. There they find the similarly recalcitrant mother and the sad baby camel, and he starts to play his violin, with the mother of the human family singing. And see, little by little, the camel mum calms down, bursts into tears, and lets the baby near it. And all ends well.

Does it end well, though? The smaller son discovered TV on the trip into town and now the family has a TV, a solar panel on top of the yurt and a huge satellite dish to lug around.

The loveliest moment was at the end of the film, when all actors lined up in small groups with their names printed on the screen below them. This included the two main camels and their names.