Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mongol: Film Review

Mongol directed by Sergei Bodorov

Miss Talibonita had to see this film three times to quench her thirst for the steppes of Central Asia. Each viewing had a different impact on her:

1) While watching this with her buddy Tartarous the Noble, she exclaimed in the movie theater "OMG, I love my face!" Yes, as vain as this sounds, the film made her love high cheekbones, klik klaki language, and the textiles in her home.

2) After watching it with her students, she felt that she could articulate her experience with her students intellectually and within the context of postcolonial studies. Miss Talibonita also loved her students expressions after the film. Soon, she will be posting her students responses on this entry.

3) With her Daddy jan, Miss Talibonita was able to piece apart the linguistic connections between Uzbek/Farsi and Mongolian.

In one of the blissful domestic moments, out in the middle of a field with his two children and his wife, Timudjin says: "Mongolian is a beautiful language. Soon the world will be speaking it." Although, the world doesn't speak it, his empire spread many Mongolian words into Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, India/Pakistan. My Indian students said they were able to pick out some familiar words (thanks to the Mughals) and Miss Talibonita's Daddy was able to pick up a lot more.

Here are some similarities (Mongolian will be listed first):

Akha: Aka (Uzbek for brother)
Manekheh: Manekeh (Mine)
Otur: Otu (Hindi/Urdu Get Up)

In another scene Jamukhai says "My liver hurt when I heard your wife was kidnapped." In Farsi, we say "Jigar khoon" to describe something sad or tragic. Meaning: Bloody Liver.

Also Paiposh, boots (literally: foot wear) in Farsi, was used to refer to boots in the film "bebesh." In Uzbeki we use the term bebesh for shoes, but I heard it more when I had to get baby shoes.

These are all based on what was heard in the movie theater. Of course, more research would be necessary, but the familiarity of the language was just a wonderful experience.

On a last note, they kept saying "A Mongol does this..." or "A Mongol would never do that..." which made the film reveal itself as a film for outsiders or a crash course for Mongolians who want to know what they are like and were like in the 12-13th centuries. Mongen was Borte's daughters' name. I imagine it meant something like little Mongol or something. But I can see why she was named this since she was born in China. The emphasis on Mongol identity in a foreign land makes sense in this case. But the continued discussions of what a Mongol is like and not like amongst each other felt like they were foreigners in their own land, or aware of foreign eyes... ahem... like Miss Talibonita and company in the audience!

This was the only pebble in my paiposh about this film.

(The softer side of Jingiz Khan: "Honey can you please pass the yak milk?")


P said...

I really love your posts. I wish I could see this soon, but I'll have to wait till post-exam. :(

Talibonita said...

Exams are important! Sneaking into a movie theater playing this film is priceless! :)

jane717 said...

I too, enjoy your posts but one thing has been irking me. Why do you keep referring to Persian as "Dari?"

Talibonita said...

When we were kids we just said "Do you speak Farsi?" or "Hey khar, say it Farsi not in English!" Lately, it seems to be important to distinguish Afghan dialect from Iranian dialect from Tajiki. So the Afghan version is Dari. Even Americans (informed ones) use the term Dari to talk about Afghan version.

So if its an Iranian post, I use Farsi (as in Googoosh) if its an Afghan thing I use Dari.

Is that a good clarification?

Persian was used to define an ethnicity and language by Iranians after the U.S hostage crisis when Iranians wanted to distance themselves from Iranians. So the term "Persian" to define language was more regularly used around this time as well -- Persis Karim does a better job discussing this in her book on Iranian Americans.

jane717 said...

Also, you might be interested in this:

My Persian Etymology Dictionary in the works.

jane717 said...

Actually, I'm not going to discuss that any further because I don't feel like it has any "sud."

Ah, Uzbek. The Mazâri (and other Afghânistâni dialects) being the simplest form. Do you happen to have any relatives in Virginia? I have a 'kâkâ' who has been helping me understand the Uzbek language better. Awesome guy..