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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Kekexili: Mountain Patrol (2004, Chinese)

Director: Lu Chuan
Cast: Duobuji, Liang Qi, Xueying Zhao 
Genre: True Story

Kekexili_Mountain Patrol
In early 90s 'Poaching' forced  the Tibetan antelope population to the brink of extinction. Concerned, some localites out of their own efforts, formed a group to protect this endangered species—Mountain Patrol.

The following dialogue beautifully sums-up the entire film: "In Kekexili, each step maybe the first human imprint ever made on that spot since the world began". These were the words of a Chinese geologist who later disappeared in the harsh vastness of Kekexili. Set in a location as exotic as it gets this film is also a true story--an irresistible combination for those into the genre.

First thing that strikes you about the movie is its genuine treatment; shot in somewhat a documentary style. It doesn't seem as if Chuan is directing a film rather he is a part of it, completely immersed in its conception--physically and as well as mentally. The actors are usually amateurs who have done a commendable job and are also very believable as the real patrol members--the group photo at the end of film reasserts this statement.

Here, you get to see the real physical effort that goes into low-budget film-making without stunt doubles or special effects. Traversing through the great Tibetan Plateau, running around for shots and thin oxygen definitely took its toll on the crew and the actors, and that has been captured onscreen too. Some scenes stand out for their authenticity, like the one where a patrol member chases after the poacher on foot. This is simply devoid of any acting--you see the scene and feel the exhaustion of both the characters.

This film is actually a part of National Geographic world films and has been critically acclaimed by the nature/animal lovers and cinema lovers alike.
National Geographic says, "Mountain Patrol: Kekexili is a film inspired by a people's remarkable mission surrounding the illegal Tibetan antelope poaching in the region of Kekexili, the largest animal reserve in China. The story is brought to the screen with great detail by director Lu Chuan. Set against the exquisite backdrop of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Chuan tells the tale of brave local Tibetans who face death and starvation to save the endangered antelope herds from a band of ruthless hunters."

In all, Mountain Patrol is a very accurate account of coming to existence of biggest Chinese animal reserve.

The film concludes telling us:

"Gayu, the journalist, returned to Beijing. His reports shook the nation. Four patrol members were arrested for selling antelope pelts but later released due to the public support-as patrol was helpless and unsupported in harsh conditions. Chinese government declared Kekexili a national nature reserve."
Indeed, a film that had to be made.

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