‘The Eagle Huntress’ – Movie ReviewCategory: Movies
Girl Power is front and center in The Eagle Huntress, a fascinating film about not only one young girl’s desire and hard work but also the life of the nomads in Mongolia and the lives of eagle hunters. To get this amazing story on film was quite a feat by the filmmakers, yet they managed to create a beautifully shot and compelling story for audiences.
At the center of the film is Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl living a nomadic life with her parents, brother, and sister. For generations her family has been eagle hunters, and this young girl decided that she wanted to follow in her father’s, grandfather’s, and forefather’s footsteps. She wanted to be an eagle hunter. “I was ten years old when I decided I wanted to be an eagle huntress,” says Aisholpan.
“If there was an American girl who suddenly said, ‘Dad, I want to be a bull rider!’ we might wonder where that came from,” says director Otto Bell. “But if she’d been standing at the paddock every day for the last thirteen years looking at the bulls, you might say, ‘I knew this day would come.’” Aisholpan has been living with eagle hunters her entire life and at a young age she decided she wanted to join the family business, so to speak.
Capturing her story was not easy. The filmmakers found themselves in several difficult situations. Only a couple times did they request a reshoot. “I have watched a lot of documentary filmmakers work over the years,” says Bell, “and some of them are quite shameless about how much they will ask everyday people to repeat things and again and again. I don’t really have that gene, and I get very nervous and angst-ridden about that when I know they’ve had a long day.” So basically, what you see is what actually happened.
After meeting the family, Nurgaiv, Aisholpan’s father, told Bell, “Me and my daughter are going to steal a balapan (young eagle) from its nest this morning. Is that the kind of thing you’d like to film?” Was it! The scene where Aisholpan scales the mountain and captures her eaglet is amazing. This girl is fearless.
While the elders in the tribe do not think it is appropriate for a girl to be an eagle hunter, Aisholpan and her family forge on with her training. While she is supposed to be “fragile” and stay home and make the tea, she proves that she is just as capable as any man.
“There is no gender discrimination when it comes to hunting with eagles,” says Nurgaiv. “Anyone who is capable of hunting with an eagle is allowed to do so. Aisholpan is a very brave girl. She rides horses, climbs rocks and hunts with eagles easily, like a boy. I am very proud of her.” Says Aisholpan: “Girls and boys are just as strong: if a boy can do something, girls can do it as well.”
And what happened is that this young girl was the first female to enter the Eagle Festival and lo and behold, she won – against 70 older (and all men) eagle hunters. But she not only won, she won and broke the record time! After the festival she had one final step to her dream. She had to hunt with her eagle in the cold winter. That too was successful. Aisholpan is an amazing and determined girl.
The Eagle Huntress is a beautiful film about one girl’s journey to fulfill her dream. It shows the determination of this young girl, the life led by her tribe, the vastness of the region, and the love of a family. This is a great father/daughter movie. It does have some disturbing scenes of animal killings, but that is described as “the circle of life.”
The film is in Kazakh and English with English Subtitles, however most of it is simply beautiful and amazing action. The movie opens November 2, 2016.
About the Author
Francine Brokaw has been covering all aspects of the entertainment industry for over 20 years. She also writes about products and travel. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as Internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books.
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