I can see how this film might be difficult for modern westerners--technologically and culturally sophisticated, conditioned and adapted to the complexity and fast pace of an urban existance.
But there was a time--before the migrations to Europe and to North America, that our ancestors lived very much like the people of the film, nomadic herders in the plains of central Asia. The spiritual crisis of modern people emerges out of our loss of awareness or memory of "archaic realites". We can no longer hear the echoes of the voices of the ancient ones. We tend to be vastly removed from the natural world, sheltered in our high rise condominiums, often times the only example of nature in our environment is a lap dog. It has not always been like this.
The animals that these Mongolians herd, they used to hunt, thousands upon thousands of years ago. It was easier to domesticate them. The way of life of these herding people has proceeded, over the millennia, with very little change, although, the people in the film have aquired a cast iron stove, and the youngest of their clan seem transfixed by the lure of modern technology such as television and computer games. When the little child, Ugma, asks for a television, his grandfather warns him, "You don't want to sit around and watch glass images all day. That wouldn't be good."
Instead, they care for their animals and for each other, in a manner seemingly unchanged since the dawn of time itself. When a new camel mother rejects her first born, following a difficult birth, it becomes a problem that only humans seem to understand. Only humans seem to be capable of providing an intervention. The other camels seem oblivious to the cries of the lonely, starving, abandoned, colt. But the humans know what to do. They have seen this before. They send for a tribal violinist. There was a time when one did not need to travel far to find one. But times have changed. Now one needs to take a day to ride a camel to the nearest cultural center, and ask the music teacher to come and help. But when he does, the humans gather around the new mother. then hang the violin from her hump. The wind gently invokes haunting soft echoes from its soundboard. Then the violin is removed and the musician begins to play. The human mother gently strokes the camels fur and sings softly to her. And the mother camel begins to weep. The little colt is brought forward, and begins to nurse. His mother accepts him. There is hope. There has been healing.
This is a little bit of the ancient wisdom lost to modern people. These were among the things our ancestors once understood. That the place of humans in the pantheon of life is to be the agents of nature--good stewards, correcting things, fixing natures little mistakes, getting things back into a natural harmony. Who else has the intelligence to do this job?
There is a primordial, raw, spiritual power to this story that is deeply, and profoundly touching. It is told in a minimalist fashion, and that ramps up the subtlety of feeling necessary to appreciate the moment of restoration, once it comes. You could say, in traditional terms, that the Mongolian shamans have manifested a "metanoia", a life transforming change of heart, for this camel. The power and beauty and purity of the moment seems to affect them all. Life is good. We are one heart.
Psychologically speaking, we are all capable of armoring ourselves against the challenges of this cruel world to the point where we are no longer capable of feeling empathy, sympathy, mercy or compassion for ourselves or others. If only our doctors and priests had the simple, and singular knowledge possessed by these Mongolian herdsman. If only someone could play the violin for us, and stroke us, and sing to us, and melt the ice in which we find ourselves encased. How much violence would be left in the world after moments of renewal like that?