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The Eagle Huntress (2016) Reviewed By Jay

United States, 25 December 2015


Jay´s Review

If you have a thirteen year old who is feeling picked on because things aren't going exactly as planned, please take that youngster to see this movie. The only qualification will be the ability to read a few captions unless he or she speaks Kazakh!. This documentary features a 13-year-old girl in Kazakhstan who wants to be the first girl in twelve generations to become a master eagle hunter. There are contests every year and her father has won three times and placed in the top five during the past five years, so when he agrees to teach her, she is working with the best.


This 87-minute G-rated family film has plenty to recommend it: scenery in a place none of us have visited, a subsistence lifestyle that is new to us (they raise, slaughter and eat their own food), and the accumulated knowledge that goes into being an eagle hunter; are all unknown to me. The first hair-raising episode illustrated the skill and knowledge it takes to CAPTURE an eglet in the first place! I found myself checking the ropes and knots as carefully as her father did. I learned far more than I expected about the eagles, the horses, the lifestyle and the contest.


Director Otto Bell features two women:

  • * Aisholpan Nurgaiv, our Eagle Huntress, is determined to master this skill in spite of the elements and the solitude, so this is about empowerment, independence, determination and the encroaching modern world. Being able to stand steady as a 13-pound raptor is diving toward your outstretched arm, takes more courage than I would be able to muster! Her school chums agree!
  • * Daisy Ridley ("Star Wars; The Force Awakens") is our narrator/producer. We hear her voice as she explains the rules for the contest and clarifies some of the social issues, but those grumpy men needed no translation. They are adamantly opposed to a GIRL encroaching on their sport.

You have NEVER seen such breathtaking scenery or have beheld such tough, solitary figures in such a vast, unforgiving landscape. The sturdy little horses (Mongolian ponies) are tough and courageous. It's fun to watch them hold their own amid the jeeps, trucks, and Bactrian (two-humped) camels. WE had to smile at the way the judges held up their numbered cards to vote. It looked like Dancing With the Stars. Then it was a surprise to learn that she STILL doesn't qualify until she and her eagle have proven their skills in a real-life hunt.


There is so much I haven't mentioned. Suffice it to say, this documentary will stay with you for a long time and you'll be the richer for it.


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