A curious friendship develops between Gombo, a young Mongolian shepherd living with his wife and family in a hut, deep in the wilderness of the steppes, and Sergei, a Russian worker whose truck breaks down not far from Gombo's hut.
The shepherd Gombo lives with his wife, three children and grandmother in a tent on the Mongolian steppe. They are pleased with their rustic conditions, until a Russian truck driver, Serguei, gets stuck with his truck nearby. The cultural gap between Gombo and Serguie seems invincible. But maybe they can learn a few things from each other?Written by
The best definition I can give to movies I greatly admire is that they take me someplace I don't expect to go.
It can be a special location. It can be a special moment. It can be a special revelation.
Close to Eden, as this movie has been titled in the United States, offers the entire combination. A 1992 Russian nominee for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, the movie opens on the vast grassy expanses of the steppes of Mongolia, where the setting initially is evocative of a certain timelessness. The historical instant cannot be ascertained confidently, even within an error margin of a few centuries. Nor do we know what the movie designs ultimately to tell us.
Such uncertainty begins to give way as a vehicle and visitor enter the scene and are involved in a mishap that results from first sleepiness and then fright. The nature of the vehicle and visitor narrow the reference era to an accuracy level of mere decades. From there, the plot leads to a likable nuclear family of herders, to which a grandmother is attached. We follow their story and soon learn when, among the vast expanses of time, it occurs.
The theme here is subtly...ecological...in three parts. The first part concerns the lifestyle of the family, and its self-sufficiency. The second part concerns the travel the father undertakes, and the reason for the travel, an assigned errand he seeks to accomplish in the course of that journey. The third part concerns the conclusion, where the issue of time again intervenes. There is in fact no timelessness, but rather its passage. The narrator in A River Runs Through It is "haunted by waters." Similarly, the ending of Close to Eden is haunted by grasses. Its status as one of the great foreign films arrives in the last few knockout minutes.
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