The Eagle Huntress is the kind of film we all deserve to see at the end of what has been – let’s be honest – a pretty shocking year. Set against the mind-blowingly beautiful landscape of the Mongolian Altai mountains, The Eagle Huntress is the truly incredible story of 13 year old Aisholpan, who dreams of becoming the first-ever female eagle hunter in the revered Mongolian tradition. While she faces much condemnation from the head honchos of this male-dominated world, all of whom are utterly opposed to a female becoming part of their ancient tradition, Aisholpan’s supportive father believes wholeheartedly in his daughter’s passion, talent and determination, and helps her break into the world of eagle hunting, traditionally passed down from father to son.
Don’t let the fact that this is a documentary turn away any of you who may have more typically mainstream tastes, as this is quite simply a masterpiece of visual storytelling and one of the most inspirational things you will see on the big screen this year.
For a seemingly-niche film – that is to say documentary about a rural girl from one of the planet’s most vastly populated countries, who is interested in a world most of us have never heard about before – this film got the attention of some serious heavyweights. It is narrated by Star Wars’ Daisy Ridley, and features a phenomenal original song written and performed by Sia. The reason for this involvement is easily understandable for those that see the film; The Eagle Huntress is not niche… it is universal in all the very best ways.
Documentaries, and films in general, should open our eyes and our minds to a world we haven't seen before – one that we may not even know exists – full of possibilities and individuals that excite and inspire us. When it succeeds in doing so, this is when cinema is at its best.
The Eagle Huntress is evidence that we do not necessarily need to invent fictional stories and worlds to find inspiration. There are more instances and people and places of inspiration in our own world than we would ever be able to conjure up, and certainly more than we would ever be capable of being knowledgeable about. This is where documentary makers come in, giving us a window through which we can glimpse some of them.
Aisholpan is not only a kick-ass girl who should make females everywhere feel proud, but she proves that age is not a barrier to following your dreams and achieving success. This is a film any audience would benefit from seeing, not least of all because of the bond between Aisholpan and her father, reminiscent of the more well-documented relationship between Malala Yousafzai and hers. Having people who support you and believe in you makes anything possible, and seeing this film is guaranteed to inspire audiences to support and encourage everyone they know to follow their dreams. Magic can happen when we do.
The Eagle Huntress is an uplifting film of the very highest order, and the kind of thing I think most of us could do with in our lives after the year that has been 2016. I could not recommend this film any more. If nothing else, the vast and breath-taking scenery of Mongolia is reason enough to see it, filled as it is with shots that rival the very best of National Geographic and Planet Earth. Top marks!