Kurmanjan Datka Queen of the Mountains

datkaKyrgyzstan. The following fails to praise the movie, but its one of Marion’s favorites, and I suspect her taste is more widely shared than mine. Its definitly a good story, and an interesting part of history.

Kurmanjan Dakta was a real person, kind of the George Washington of Kyrgyzstan. Her picture is on the money. This is a propaganda film financed on no bid contracts by the government for the controversial amount of $1.3 Million. Controversial because economically, the country is in the toilet owing to a series of kleptocratic governments and factional upheavals starting in the 90’s when they separated from the Soviet Union. Kyrgyzstan is in the area that the Greeks called Scythia, whose inhabitants pretty much pioneered horse culture, and mounted warfare. They invented trousers, also. The Kyrgyz were Turkic nomads of the Eurasian steppes. They almost got crushed by various empires over time, but persevered in their mountain holdouts. When the tsarist Russians came with their cannons it was plain that they were really going to get crushed, and Kurmanjan was the leader who made as favorable a peace with them as probably could have been had. Peace in the sense of an absence of official hostilities.

I have to say, Central Asian Turkic muslim cultures have no end of fascination for me. I can’t say why. If the movie did nothing else for me, it made me want to go there.  Maybe they will get their money’s worth out of it.

This is not a great movie, but its a good movie. The acting is way different from most of the movies we see. In most movies, especially those set among traditional people, if the character is a shepherd, the actor looks like a shepherd. A tough, grizzled, kind of dirty shepherd; its often hard to imagine that they are actors, and often they aren’t. In Kurmanjan, they look like actors with fake beards. This movie has more in common with the big technicolor movies of the 60’s than independent film. Charlton Heston would have fit right in, that stiff. But those were OK movies. I loved Ben-Hur. There were great scenes of horse riding, one in particular where Krumanjan rides over a cliff into a lake thats pretty spectacular.