The Mongolian flag - showing the national symbol of Mongolia - the Soyembo
Blogs About Mongolia
March 11, 2020
A Mongolian ger in northern Mongolia

Films About Mongolia

Sometimes the best way to experience a destination is to watch a film that takes place there. If you have been, it’s also a way to remind you why you fell in love with it in the first place.  Films about a country allow you to escape. But they also allow you to visit places and see inside the skin of people entirely different to ourselves. Travel films broaden our perspective – just like an actual physical trip to Mongolia will do as well.  These are a few of favourites films about Mongolia and also ones that are not that well-known outside of Mongolia.

Mongol
Mongol is a semi-historical film directed by Sergei Bodrov, about the early life of Temüjin before he became Chinggis Khan. This is the story of his life as a young boy, and as a man who is an outcast. Although it was mainly filmed in Inner Mongolia and Kazakhstan, the music is by the superb Mongolian folk-rock band Altan Urag.
Genghis Khan - the focus of Mongolia - films about Mongolia

A close up of the Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue at Tsonjin Boldog in Mongolia. The statue is said to represent the power and courage of Chinggis Khan and is also said to be located at the site where he found the golden whip that inspired his future conquests. One legend states that he found the golden whip when he was travelling to the Khereid tribe to ask for help. Chinggis felt that finding the whip was a message from Tenger (the god of the Eternal Blue Sky) and it motivated him to achieve his wish of becoming ruler of the Mongol tribes. For more on the Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue, click on the image to go direct to our blog post.

Story Of The Weeping Camel

There are two main ingredients to this documentary-style film. The epic landscapes of Mongolia’s Gobi Desert and the way of life of the herders that make their home in this vast expanse. A camel calf is rejected by its mother. Without its mother’s milk, the calf will die. To save its life, two sons of the herding family travel to their nearest small town for a Morin Khuur (Horse Head Fiddle) musician to play a ‘Ингенд Ботго Авахуулах’ (traditional coaxing ritual) to encourage the mother camel to release its milk. If you’ve been to the small community of Bulgan in the southern Gobi (which if you’ve been to Flaming Cliffs / Bayanzag then you probably have), this is the small town that the two boys travel to in search of traditional musicians and batteries.

State of Dogs

Set in Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar,  the film combines documentary elements with fictional elements. It’s quite impressionistic in its story of Baasar, a dog who dies early in the movie — shot by a hunter employed by the city to reduce its dog population. According to Mongolian legend, a dog (who is prepared) may be reincarnated in its next life as a human, after roaming free for as long as he wants. Baasar roams the memory of his life, uninterested in advancing to human life. The film is a depiction of modern Mongolian life with definite connections to Mongolian myths.

Cave Of The Yellow Dog

The oldest daughter of a  Mongolian herding family finds a small dog but her father refuses to let her keep it, believing it will bring the family bad luck and lead wolves to their sheep. Nansal decides to defy her father by hiding her new friend but as winter approaches and the family prepares to move camps, her father plans to leave the dog behind. He is forced to reconsider after the dog protects their youngest child from vultures.

Balapan, The Altai Boy

By Hamid Sardar, western Mongolia forms the backdrop to this film where flocks of sheep belonging to local herders are being attacked by wolves. The men of the local community opt for a wolf hunt with their eagles. Four-year-old Khoda Bergen dreams of participating in the hunt but first has to train his own eagle. ”

Tracking The White Reindeer

Again by Hamid Sardar but set in the Darkhad Depression of Mongolia’s far north. This film focuses on the Tsaatan (Duka) reindeer herders. A young couple wishes to get married, but the father of the girl wants her prospective husband to prove himself by raising a herd of reindeer by himself.

The Eagle Huntress

Probably the most famous film to come out of Mongolia. Ever. Directed by Otto Bell, this is the 2016 Kazakh-language film that tells the story of 13-year old Aisholpan, the Kazakh girl from western Mongolia who wants to follow in the footsteps of her father and become an eagle hunter.

Films about Mongolia - The Eagle Huntress - Aisholpan

The Eagle Huntress – Aisholpan. In the words of our guest Shobha Gopinath: ‘This child is about to become a Hollywood star. Yet, she had no airs whatsoever. In fact, she had just returned from L.A. and had only a couple of weeks practice before the competition and yet she achieved an overall 3rd place this year! Somehow I think she will remain grounded, just looking at her upbringing, environment and ambition to become a master eagle hunter. She has inspired other Mongolian girls to take up the eagle-hunting. Talk about breaking barriers!’ For more on how we work with Aisholpan and other eagle huntresses, click on the image for a link to our blog post.

Burn Your Maps

A quirky adventure where Wes, an 8-year-old American boy, believes that he is a Mongolian goat herder. When Wes befriends an Indian immigrant they use crowdfunding to finance a  journey to the plains of Mongolia.

The Two Horses Of Genghis Khan

Another film written and directed by Byambasuren Davaa – ‘The Two Horses of Genghis Khan’ refers to a Mongolian folk song whose lyrics are chiefly lost today. The film follows musician Urna’s journey across Mongolia to recover the missing verses and perform the song in Ulaanbaatar.

Khadag

Directed by Peter Brosens and Jessica Hope Woodworth, the film focuses life on the Mongolian steppe for Bagi, a nomadic herder. A livestock plague forces young Bagi and his family to abandon their traditional way of life

If you prefer books to films, then you may want to look at our blog post books about Mongolia. Or, get in touch and we can provide a list of further inspiration.

Jessica Brooks
Jessica Brooks
I’m Jess Brooks. I am the founder of Eternal Landscapes Mongolia - a registered Mongolian business and social travel enterprise that focuses on providing travellers with a real 21st Century insight into Mongolia. I have been based in Mongolia since 2006 and together with my beloved Mongolian team, we focus on tourism that makes a positive difference. I'm also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society - awarded for my work in Mongolia and a published guidebook author - having worked together with World Adventure Guides to produce a digital interactive guide to Mongolia. http://www.jessbrooks.co.uk/
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