Review: ‘An Unfortunate Fortune’

Written by D. Namsarai. Camera (color), N. Zondoi; art direction, P. Sosorbaram; music, H. Biligjargal. Reviewed at Hawaii Intl. Film Festival, Nov. 10, 1993. Running time:67 MIN.

Written by D. Namsarai. Camera (color), N. Zondoi; art direction, P. Sosorbaram; music, H. Biligjargal. Reviewed at Hawaii Intl. Film Festival, Nov. 10, 1993. Running time:67 MIN.

Monkhetenger …E. Monkherdeni

Donjaa … D. Tserendarzav

Lunden … L. Jamsaranjav

Nerenkhuu … Sh. Tsetseg

Ancient folklore come to cinematic life, this wry slice of Mongolian culture says plenty about religious desperation, even if its one-note treatment of a lad’s obsession with becoming a “living Buddha” won’t make many converts.

Short pic centers on a fatherless shepherd (E. Monkherdeni) who endures the taunts of wealthy neighbor boys by running to his mother’s skirts. Hanging around the yurt one day, he spies some passing wise men and runs after them, yelling that he’s choice messiah material. The blase Lamaists don’t even see him and, deeply frustrated, mama’s little Buddha passes out in the summer sun.

Frothing at the mouth, he wakes up convinced the transformation is complete, and he proceeds to freak out the neighborhood with his crazed fixation. Already scraping by, his long-suffering mom (D. Tserendarzav) gives up everything to cope with this in-house god with atrocious table manners. Things get worse.

Tale is rich with ethnographic material, and veteran kidpic helmer N. Nyamdawaa throws in painted backgrounds and fanciful lighting to imaginative effect. But few auds will be able to tolerate the boy thesp’s gaga grin for even the brief time required. And the bleak resolution, while suitably ironic, is less than uplifting.

An Unfortunate Fortune

(MONGOLIAN 16mm)

Production

A Mongol Kino production. (Intl. sales: Tumendemberelin Sarantuya, Dept. of Cinematography, Ministry of Culture, Ulan Bator.) Directed by N. Nyamdawaa.
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