Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Movie Review: Amka and the Three Golden Rules

This review contains spoilers

A disproportionately small amount of spotlight is shed onto the human aspect of Mongolia as opposed to its vast mineral riches. What really resonated with me about the film, “Amka and the Three Golden Rules” was that it managed to balance the importance of both through the brilliantly crafted story of a ten year old orphan boy who must provide for his drunken older brother and little sister by collecting cans and bottles in the streets.

“Amka and the Three Golden Rules” is currently being featured in American film festivals and has won two awards for best feature film so far. And it’s no surprise.

Directed by Pakistan born British/American Babar Ahmed and starring Ganzorig Telmen as Amka, the film delivers a compelling and uplifting story of a good-hearted boy who must learn from his mistakes. The story is in many ways a symbol of how Mongolia must decide its own faith.

When Amka, who’s had a tragic past that left his family in poverty, finds a gold coin in his backyard, he does what most ten year old boys do – buy the things he wants most. The little money he made from the gold coin is quickly spent on sports clothes and video games (more on this later), and soon Amka finds himself in debt with the local boys.

Due to his excessive spending habits developed as a result of the gold coin, Amka finds himself in confrontation with his older brother and begins to neglect his little sister.

Unable to live in his neighbourhood without getting into trouble with those from whom he borrowed, Amka decides to spend the rest of the summer with his uncle, who leads a nomadic life in the countryside. There Amka must learn three lessons that will set him on the right path.

Telmen delivers a strong, natural performance as Amka, seamlessly guiding the audience through the story.
Combined with a strong lead, stunning shots of the spectacular landscapes of Mongolia and excellent music, with an ethnic undertone, the movie adds another perspective onto life in Mongolia.

As stated above, the story itself serves as a symbol for Mongolia and how it must efficiently utilizes its considerable natural resources, as Amka had to learn. At the same time, the movie underlines important social concerns in Mongolia, such as the hardships living in the ger districts, without central heating and water supplies, and unregulated video game centers that allow minors to play violent video games and view explicit content for prolonged hours.

The only things that were a bit hard to swallow for me was the Mongolian dialogue, which sometimes felt a bit forced and unnatural, but I think foreign audiences will enjoy watching it with the English subtitles.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the movie and feel that it is a great addition to movies set in Mongolia. I give this film 7.5/10, definitely worth watching.

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