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Myn Bala: ride and ride hard
Myn Bala the Kazakh movie Well, first movie I've ever seen on IMDb with only one review (three now, since I wrote this). It's the supposedly uplifting legend, based on a true story, of a set of young rebels early in eighteenth Century Kazakhstan who rose up against their oppressors. The country at that time was being overrun by a cruel and violent militaristic set of people called the Djongars, who were descendants of Genghis Khan and his Mongols. There are two main young male protagonists, Sertai and Taimas, who inevitably fall out as Sertai becomes more admired and takes over leadership; their kind-of-sister and lifelong friend Korlan, who is a scar-faced female warrior and very convincing she is too; and then Sertai falls for the beautiful young daughter, Zere, of a chief whom he offends, as being too conciliatory with their conquerors and not bold enough. The story is well told, though the flow is sometimes lost in translation. Mainly because the subtitles are out of synch, or use peculiar modern slang idioms, or during three long character farewell speeches leave just one (non-English) word up on screen for five minutes. Still, you get the gist. The story isn't new: Braveheart and all that - but this one has three things that make it standout (even apart from the fact that know nothing whatsoever about Kazakhstan's history so is always good to see a different part of the world through fresh eyes). The three things are:
The steppe. Every so often the main characters wander down from the hills where they're hiding and say something like: oh, our steppe is so beautiful, we must get rid of the invaders. They almost literally swoon over the beauty of the steppe. Really extraordinary: rarely have I seen a place which gives the western city-born person such a sense of otherness - great empty wild bare barren looking place - kind of makes me feel the opposite. The clothes. Presume they are all true to time for the place and period. Great fur hats cascading down backs, women's hats like pagodas, intricate tooled soft leather jerkins and belts, Tartar-ish military uniforms look rather like samurai - completely unlike anything have seen before. The horse-riding. Never seen anything like it in the movies: these people ride like they were born in the saddle. And why walk when you can trot? And why trot when you can gallop hell for leather across endless miles of steppe? So gallop they do. A lot. So very enjoyable. Only downside: the end. And being told that it was another three hundred years before Kazakhstan finally got its freedom. Which would be .... hm, sometime in the 1990s.
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