“Farewell Gulsary” is based on a story by recently deceased Krygyzstan author Chinghiz Aitmatov that was filmed in 1968. One doubts the USSR-produced version had quite the same political thrust as this one, which lays full blame for both a herdsman and his champion horse’s unhappy fates on the inept policies and vicious petty bureaucracy of the Communist Party. Veteran director Ardak Amirkulov’s scenic but wooden take makes those points rather bluntly, and the whole equine aspect eventually feels superfluous. After some fest travel, “Gulsary” will fast be put out to pasture.

Now as old and weary as his tapped-out wagon horse, Tanabai (Dogdurbedk Kydraliev) recalls happier days when he was a returned war hero, successful livestock keeper and proud new owner of magnificent stallion Gulsary. When the horse wins a race, however, the party’s new regional chief decides Gulsary must be his. As the steed is eventually gelded for being too headstrong, so Tanabai is spiritually castrated by Stalin’s agricultural collectivization and mean-spirited local flunkies. Meanwhile, the protag is torn between his wife and a younger woman. Episodic progress is pretty turgid, if prettily shot.

Farewell Gulsary


  • Production: A Studio Kazakfilm and Ardfilm production. (International Films, Ardfilm , Altmaty, Kazakhstan.) Produced by Ardak Amirkulov. Executive producer, Nina Ashkanova. Directed by Ardak Amirkulov. Screenplay, Amirkulov, Erlan Nurmuhambetov, Erzhan Rustembekov, based on a novel by Chinghiz Aitmatov.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Alexander Rubanov; editor, A. Bisimbinova; music, K. Shildebaer; production designer, Sabit Kurmanbekov. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (competing), Aug. 27, 2008. Running time: 102 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Dogdurbek Kydraliev, Nurlan Sanzhar, Raykhan Aytozhanova, Zhanel Makazhanova.
  • Music By: