Everything the previous writer said was true. He left out the importance of the music. There is a native Mongolian singer who plays a large two string upright version of violins called a rebab or kemenche played all over the Balkans, Middle East and Asia. The singer is a hero in the country and unfortunately I have been unable to find any music of his or a soundtrack of Gada Meilin. I would dearly love to find a copy.
It was the imagery created by the music and the scenery that sets this movie apart from other great films. The singer has a deep and gravelly voice that is mostly unknown in the United States, except perhaps from a few old Southern blues singers. The intensity of the bond between Gada and his wife and their daughter provides the deepest feelings brought out through the music. A reddish-pink scarf that they play with while riding horses also supplies the image that they will never be parted in spirit. It also represents a kind of victory over the overwhelming odds against their own rulers allied with the Japanese.
It is hard to see the characters as actors because they seem so real. There sure are no actors like this in Hollywood or other European cinema. Even in most of the great Japanese movies by Akira Kurosawa it is easy to see the characters as actors playing a role. I think that is another main reason for the depth and intensity of Gada Meilin. I have seen this movie twice and the sense of depth was even greater the second time I saw it. The Mongolian people are shown as dedicated to family, courageous, playful, having great spirit and character as well as a having a highly developed sense of humor. But, as I said, the best of all is the music.
One reviewer talks of a stereotype of women from Mongolia as being like tomboys. He must know little about people who live outside urban cultures who have to fight to survive every day.The women need to be strong and self-sufficient as well as the men. The woman actually is physically more feminine in the western sense. It is her spirit that is masculine and combative.
To say that the emotional story of the family does not work within the overall story of the Mongolian people because they lack a common thread (I assume "threat" was a typo) fails to take into consideration the beginning of the film when as children they witness the execution of a rebel that lays the basis for both their personal relationship and how it develops within the overall plot of the movie. The overall sense of mutual responsibility for each other as members of the same tribe provides an unspoken thread to link the personal element to that of the society as a whole.
I think the reviewer is just playing the critic. The judgments made tell me that the film is not being judged on its own merits, but on a preconceived list of mostly phoney criteria of excellence. The lack of mention of the music's uniqueness and excellence as an integral part is evidence of that.
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