Aisholpan dreams of one thing and one thing only: she wants to become an Eagle Huntress and prove her skills in the big annual competition where all of Mongolia flocks together. The only problem is: girls don’t become Eagle Hunters. But Aisholpan’s father Rys doesn’t care too much about these traditions and he wants to see his daughter succeed as well. So together they embark on the training mission.
The Eagle Huntress tells a good story that I enjoyed watching, even through its more manipulative moments.
I don’t operate under the assumption or impression that documentaries are objective. And yet, most of them tend to at least try to be as objective as they can, or at least give the semblance of objectivity by narrating calmly. Not so Otto Bell, who throws the neutral stance over bord. He is not only rooting for Aisholpan every second along the way, he is not beyond dramatizing things at least a little bit to make sure that we feel the impact of it all.
Or at least, the editing and the filmmusic used felt like overdramatization to me, at least during the competition. The way the crowd’s reactions are cut into Aisholpan’s performance at the competition was a particular obvious example. At least, he leaned in the – to me – right direction. If he had cut the film in favor of the old men who wanted to keep her from participating and doing her thing, I probably couldn’t have watched the film.
Of course, there is the usual dilemma stories of “firsts” face: to be the first person to do something is amazing and inspiring, but if we keep only hearing stories of firsts, we will never build a history of all the achievements that came before the (apparent) firsts and that made them possible. This is particularly jarring here as Aisholpan is shown almost exclusively in interaction with men, as if it’s up to them (particularly her father) to make it possible for her to succeed.
But despite those critical points from my side, I did very much enjoy watching The Eagle Huntress. It is an uplifting, wonderful story, the cinematography is stunning and Aisholpan herself is pretty great. It’s an entertaining film that opens a small window into a to me very new world. And that’s a whole lot to get from a film.
Summarizing: Interesting and nice.