Molom, conte de Mongolie (original title)
MOLOM-A LEGEND OF MONGOLIA
-By Renfreu Neff
Molom-A Legend of Mongolia - majestic is its backdrop of sweeping vistas and the rugged terrain of Mongolia a country little known to Westerners. The magical story of the shaman priest Molom, told in voice-over narration by his young apprentice Yonden, is as magical in its simplicity and subtle shadings as the mountains and steppes across which the two travel.
Abandoned by his father, a drunken Wolf Hunter, the boy Yonden lives with a wolf pack in the remote vastness of Mongolia. He is discovered by a wandering shaman Molom who, observing that the boy possesses certain auspicious characteristics, takes him on as his apprentice. They set out on a journey of discovery across mountainous territory peopled by nomadic clans and herders, wrestlers and storytellers. They encounter a band of drunken horsemen, a snaggletoothed sorceress, and a contest of holy men representing the spiritual philosophies of the world, all vying for the soul of a far-flung nomadic culture. They stop at sacred places, and Molom tells the story of the wondrous city of Shambhala, which they will visit.
This is the story of how Buddhism came to the Genghis Khan's ancient kingdom of Mongolia, which is now an independent republic ten times the size of Texas with a population of only six million, a raggedy, elliptical land of mountain and desert, browed to the north by Russia with China bordering to the east, south and west. Geographically separated by thousands of miles of barren stretches of Gobi Desert and towering Himalayan ranges that lie within China, the Buddhism practiced in Mongolia is, oddly enough, the same as that practiced in Tibet. In the Tibetan-Mongol Buddhist teachings, Shambhala is one of the heaven realms (but, alas, it is not perfect: to be reborn in Shambhala is to live only 100 years). The Shangri-La of Lost Horizon is a literary borrowing from the sacred myth of Shambhala. On another level, Shambhala is a metaphysical blueprint for a utopian paradise: the perfect society in which human suffering has ceased to exist. Shambhala is symbolized by the pearl, which is said to be contained within the heart. To get to the pearl-that is, to reach Shambhala-the heart must be opened.
None of this is easy. But Marie Jaoul de Poncheville's film makes it wondrously accessible, and her two characters-12-year-old Yondejunai, who lives with his family of nomads in a valley in Central Mongolia, and Tseded, at 75, one of the great actors of Mongolian cinema (over 50 films) and theatre (over 200 plays) and well-known on his country's radio and television-are thoroughly enjoyable traveling companions. Jacques Besse's gently luminous cinematography makes Mongolia appear to be a magical earthy realm, as the two make their way from the remote nether regions and arrive at last, with a playful irony that catches us up in our own misconceptions and illusions, in the city of Ulan Bator, where Molom entrusts his young pupil to a monastery to complete his education.
In the end Yonden shares with us his view of life. Wonder, Love and a Open Heart.
Directed by: Marie-Jaoul de Poncheville
Writer: Marie-Jaoul de Poncheville
Cast (in credits order)
Tsededorj ... Molom
Yondejunaï ... Yonden
Marie-Jaoul de Poncheville .... producer
Franz-Christoph Giercke .... executive producer
Vincent Roget .... line producer
Original Music by Trilok Gurtu
Cinematography by Jacques Besse