Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Tulpan is the name of an unattainable girl we never see. The film begins with Asa, a young man fresh out of the naval service, meeting with her parents, hoping to convince them of his merit. He tells them amazing stories of the ocean while the girl peeks in through a curtained doorway. She is not impressed. She thinks his ears are too big. They do stick out somewhat but are not overly huge. He takes to wearing a cloth strap around his head trying to flatten them. After a couple visits, the parents make it very clear to him that she does not want to marry him. Still he perseveres; talking to her through a door when he thinks she is in a shed. (She isn't - but there is a sweet listening goat).

The man is living with his sister and her family in a yurt

a circular tent of felt or skins on a collapsible framework, used by nomads in Mongolia, Siberia, and Turkey.

on a Kazakhstan steppe.

a republic in central Asia, south of Russia, that extends east from the Caspian Sea to the Altai Mountains and China; population 15,143,000; capital, Astana; languages, Kazakh (official) and Russian. The Turkic tribes of Kazakhstan were overrun by the Mongols in the 13th century, and the region was eventually absorbed into the Russian empire. Kazakhstan formed a constituent republic of the Soviet Union and became an independent republic within the Commonwealth of Independent States in 1991.

They are nomads who pick up their house and leave when the time comes.

The children in the family are each very much individuals. The only girl sings and sings and sings. The older boy listens to the radio news and repeats it verbatim to his father. The little boy, maybe three years old, rides his wooden horse around and around, getting into little boy trouble while being utterly adorable. The life is very earthy and naturalistic. The father works hard as a shepherd, battling strong winds which stir up incredible dust and dealing with the troubles that come with such a job. Lately lambs have been dying, and he is told it is because the mothers are starving. We see there are only tufts of grass on the steppe - no real forage to speak of.

Asa loves this life deeply. In fact, the movie viewer is pretty sure the only reason he really wants to marry is because a man who does such work must have a helpmate to do the cooking and to keep the home.

Oh my goodness I loved this movie. Everything in it was a revelation to me: the life, the locale, the camels, the language. I felt like I was being allowed into the life of these people. It is not a documentary but felt like it in some places. This is natural because the director, Sergei Dvortsevoy, makes documentaries. There is an amazing sequence of a lamb being born. This is a huge event in the movie because of the way lambs have been dying. It is so important that there be new life in the flock. Yet, the movie is also very enjoyable as just a regular movie about people. There is a humorous character, a friend of Asa's, who is wild about modern life (and women) and wants to move to the city. We see the difficult yet very close-knit life of the family. Their home is one big room where all facets of life occur. This is a truly wonderful movie. You may watch a trailer, and learn more about the movie here. It comes out on dvd in September.


  1. I'm not really a movie person but this sounds like one my son would love.

  2. This sounds like a wonderful movie - and I've never heard of it before. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  3. sounds like a movie worth watching to me Nan - thanks for sharing, I luv learning about other people and how they live, love, and learn

    and your cats are beautiful, what a nice moment captured with your camera :o)

  4. That sounds like a truly original movie!! I'll have to remember the name and look for it in Sept!! How did you come across this little gem?

  5. Scriptor S. - does this mean you don't like any movies, or just new movies, or that you don't like going to a movie theatre? Do you watch them on dvd? For me, movies are just visual books - stories about people and places.

    Heather, hope you get to see it. A comment like yours makes me so pleased that I wrote about it.

    Blessed with Four, it is certainly well worth watching. I found myself becoming quite attached to these people. Soot and Raya thank you - they like being blogstars. :<)

    Staci, the movie was at our little small town three-season independent theatre, where Tom is a volunteer projectionist once a week.

  6. This movie will definitley go on my movie list - as soon as it hits Netflix. I'm embarassed to tell you how long it's been since we have been in an actualy movie theater. It is one of the blessings of technology that even those of us living out in the boonies can have access to movies and books and all kinds of wonderful cultural info right in our own homes. I really appreciate all your movie and book suggestions.

  7. Commonweeder, thank you very much for saying that. We are 'in the boonies' but are lucky to have this little independent theatre which offers movies that aren't mainstream. But I do love my dvds! We actually watch more old tv shows than movies. We've been introduced to some fantastic writing and acting: (to mention but a few) The West Wing, Homicide, Wonderfalls, Veronica Mars, NCIS, Alias; a million British shows like Frost, Blue Murder, Life Begins, Clatterford, Doc Martin, Life on Mars to mention a few, and my most recent love, Pie in the Sky.

  8. I can't wait to see this: Into the Netflix saved queue it goes. It reminds me of The Story of the Weeping Camel? Have you seen it? It's a big favorite with all four of us.

  9. I so love Netflix! I haven't seen Weeping Camel but Tom has. Some have compared them. Is there sad animal stuff?

  10. The camel movie is touching. And ultimately uplifting. It's also just plain amazing. What is says about animals is wonderful. (Is that enough superlatives?)

  11. June, I've put Weeping Camel in my Netflix queue, and came upon another called The Cave of the Yellow Dog which was written and directed by the same person, and put it in my queue. Have you seen it?


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