This documentary is based around a Mongolian family. It is a contrast to the usual Hollywood blockbusters and is composed of the hours of documentary footage shot by Byambasuren Davaa, who lived alongside the family during the shoot.
It captures the every day life of a Mongolian family and reflects a girl’s found friendship with a surprising character, a dog. This movie is about loyalty, family and tradition as well as the changes going on in traditional Mongolian families today.
Good points of this film include the beautiful cinematography, which was complemented by the well thought out editing. The culture of the Mongolian family is also well presented through the meaning relationships expressed on film. However, it is unclear how much of the film was fact and fiction. Some of the events seem to be staged or at least motivated by the presence of the camera.
Generally we thought the film was a success though and we would recommend it to others.
Review by LiveWire Critics, Christopher Brennan, Adam Brennan, Georgina Brown and Hannah Sutton (Jul ’06)
The oriental themed documentary, THE CAVE OF THE YELLOW DAG was directed by Byambasuren Davaa. Through the film, she reflects the change in culture in Mongolia, where she was born, and reveals the conflict between tradition and modern powers. Ravelled in the unanswerable question, can simplicity co-exist with the dominant ways of modern life? This film is based around love, loss, and family ties. Yet, the most evident theme shown is friendship, and how it can ripen between the most surprising of characters, and is hidden wherever you wish to find it. The film follows the life of one family, who find it increasingly difficult to stay immune from the changes going on around their lives.
What is good about this film? Well, on one hand, the landscape alone is outstanding. It reflects the idea that somewhere so beautiful can be untouchable to interference from man-kind. Yet, on the other hand, the fact that the film is based purely on the lives of real people, and a real situation, proves that not only does this director have the courage to expose a world to us that exists only in our Western past, but is daring enough to peel away our modern day beliefs, and try to change them by showing us what life is really about.
However, the film does have its weaknesses. For example, how does the title relate to the film? Not at all, in my opinion. When the dog is brought into the storyline, the film is slightly tainted for me by wondering when this creature is going to be dipped in to yellow dye. In addition, although the tale of the ‘yellow dog’ is finally mentioned, it does not give enough importance to me to become the name of the film.
Overall, this film was successful in displaying the theme of fatalism -the acceptance that all events are inevitable and people are powerless to change them. Understandably, it has been awarded several awards, such as the ‘Palm Dog’ at the Cannes film festival, and I hope the director will go on to create more inspiring documentaries similar to this.
Although I am still left with a mix of questions at the end of my experience, I can’t help wondering whether it was the underlying purpose of the film to leave me asking; can man-kind’s actions be answerable to the changes in cultures, can our loyalty to our families ever be weakened and is there really a yellow dog?
Review by LiveWire Critic, Georgina Brown (Jul ’06)