Review: ‘Aldas’

Tamir Bayarsaikhan Sarangua Altankhuyagyn Sodgerel Bold Gombyn Raydan Damdin Baatartsogt Michel Reginald Huguenin

Tamir Bayarsaikhan Sarangua Altankhuyagyn Sodgerel Bold Gombyn Raydan Damdin Baatartsogt Michel Reginald Huguenin

The majestic backdrop of the Mongolian steppes became familiar to international cinemagoers via Nikita Mikhalkov’s “Urga,” and the same landscapes are on display in “Aldas,” which is a lesser film but which still provides a fascinating insight into contemporary Mongolian life and culture. Festival support is a must, but, at this stage, theatrical chances are slim for this raw but heartfeltopus.

Near the beginning of the film a dramatic culture clash is depicted as a gang of bikers from the city invades the peaceful camp of shepherds, who still live a traditional lifestyle, and this sets the scene for the drama that follows.

Tamir, who was raised in the traditional Mongolian peasant tradition by his grandfather, wants to be a boxer. In the country’s capital, Ulan Bator, he’s taken up by top boxing coach Bold, and soon falls for Bold’s comely daughter, Sarangua, a sophisticated young woman with Western tastes and a French boyfriend on the side. In the timeless tradition of other boxing mellers, Tamir takes to drink and neglects his training because of the faithless femme. An added wrinkle is the death of a poet friend, Damdin, in a fight for which Tamir is blamed.

Production values, boosted by Euro imports in some key departments, are low-key but acceptable. Bayarsaikhan is rather expressionless as the tormented Tamir, but Altankhuyagyn Sodgerel, who sheds her clothes on occasion, enthusiastically joins the lengthy ranks of movie bad girls.

Plotting leaves something to be desired, but overall this is an intriguing, if somber, melodrama that packs a punch. Film’s title is unexplained.

Aldas

(MONCOLIAN-FRENCH)

Production

A 7 Stars (Ulan Bator)/RGP Prods. (Paris) co-production, in association with Skyline. (International sales: Ciby Sales, London.) Produced by Franz-Christoph Ciercke. Directed by Choymbolyn Jumdaan. Screenplay, Jumdaan, Sorgodgiin Bayarsakhan.

Crew

Camera (color), Jean-Louis Vialard: editor, Florence Bon; sound, Pascal Armant; assistant director, Byambadorj. Reviewed at World Film Festival, Montreal (noncompeting) Aug. 26, 1995. Running time: 87 MIN.
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