Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Eagle Huntress: Film Review

The Eagle Huntress: Film Review

Cast: Aisholpan Nurgaiv, Rys Nurgaiv, Voice of Daisy Ridley
Director: Otto Bell

Blasting as much female empowerment as it's allowed and with a closing track from Sia with the refrain You Can Do Anything, The Eagle Huntress comes dangerously closing to over-egging its cinematic pudding.

But thankfully, the simplicity of execution for this story helps it soar as highly into the skies as one of the titular birds the cameras are following.

It's the story of 13-year-old nomadic Mongolian Aisholpan, who's determined to smash centuries of patriarchy and tradition that dictates women can't be eagle huntresses, as it's the sole domain and right of the men.

However, Aisholpan is a falconry prodigy and despite her always smiling, red-faced exterior, she's determined to ensure she follows her heart and dream.

Thankfully, with a tremendously supportive father, the pair set out across the remote Altai Mountains to achieve their goal. First, it entails Aisholpan getting her own bird, then taking part in the eagle festival and finally off out into the wintry plains to hunt.

Through the traditional coming-of-age tale that unfolds, director Otto Bell's managed to craft something that looks spectacular and cries out to be seen on the biggest screen possible.
Mountain vistas and the barrenness of the world inhabited by Aisholpan and her father make for eye-popping visuals.

There's more to this simple tale though than just pigtails and pluck.

The chubby faced Aisholpan embodies a spirit that's facilitated to shine on the screen, and it's easy to see why the likes of Morgan Spurlock and Star Wars' Daisy Ridley are involved with this tale - it screams empowerment as its simple MO.

There's little in-depth interviewing of the family, Bell's camera is simply there to capture the moments and transpose them to Western worlds unaware of a life lived. There's little intimacy, but Bell hilariously and simultaneously decries the decades-old detractors, determined to dwindle Aisholpan's flame. Showing scenes of her school friends engaged and excited by the prospect of her break-out adds elements to the innocent 13-year-old's journey but doesn't deify it; this is a kid who not once loses her charm and sweetness as the path to destiny is trod.

Blessed with beautiful cutaways, and literal eagle eye views, The Eagle Huntress is hypnotizing in its simplicity, but what shines through is not what you'd expect.

For in among the traditional coming of age triumphs as Aisholpan innocently decimates the decades-old way of doing things, emerges as tender a portrait of a father- daughter relationship as has ever been committed to celluloid. Bell's eye for the more intimate moments between the two speaks more to the familial bond, than it does to the bird or the tension of competition.

And while you could level claims of the film lacking bite in parts, the lingering image of a father and daughter trekking on horseback together, along with brief moments of Aisholpan's father's fears speak more loudly than any eagle's cry ever could or do.

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