ReelBob: ‘The Eagle Huntress’

By Bob Bloom

“The Eagle Huntress” is a beautiful documentary with some awesome visuals and an inspiring story.

The feature, shot in Mongolia, tells the story of Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl, who aspires to be the first female eagle hunter in her family.

For generations, eagle hunting has been handed down from father to son, but Aisholpan’s father, Rhys, inspired by her determination and skill, sees no reason why he should not train her in this difficult art.

Rhys is unconcerned about bucking years of tradition, believing that his daughter’s talents have earned her the right to follow her dream.

Smartly, the film, narrated by Daisy Ridley — who also serves as one of its executive producers — spends the bulk of its time chronicling Aisholpan’s extensive training — from capturing her eaglet to teaching it to obey her commands and hunt.

The Mongolian steppe region where the film takes place is a desolate, cold and, at times, harsh environment. Yet Aisholpan and her family survive — as her tribe has for generations — by moving and adapting to changes in weather and seasons.

For a documentary, “The Eagle Huntress” looks very cinematic. That is not meant as a criticism, just an observation about the film’s splendid shots.

The film contains sequences that look as if they were filmed from either drones or an aircraft, as well as some smooth and long tracking shots that would rival anything in a big-budget feature.

“The Eagle Huntress,” despite its scope, is an intimate story of one young girl ignoring obstacles to do what she believes she was born for — and succeeding splendidly.

The movie does not trumpet its feminist message, but lets it sink in slowly and subtlely.

The movie is a charming story of perseverance, dignity and courage as Aisholpan goes on her first winter hunt with her father, braving an unforgiving terrain where the temperatures are as low as 40 below zero.

True, the movie has some issues — a soundtrack and some songs that make it almost sound like a Disney princess feature — but the film’s inspirational story grabs onto the audience and holds it tightly.

“The Eagle Huntress” is an impressive feature with a spunky, optimistic, bubbly heroine who faces every challenge with a smile and a can-do attitude.

It’s a story of conquering barriers with pure talent and grit and by ignoring naysayers and those who want to maintain a status quo.

Bob Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.

THE EAGLE HUNTRESS
3 stars out of 4
(G)

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