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The Eagle Huntress [2016] is a dazzling directorial debut from Otto Bell that captures the underdog story of a 13-year-old Mongolian girl named Aisholpan who strives to become the first female eagle hunter. Her quest does not come without difficulty, however, as she fights against a male dominated, old-fashioned society that opposes her dream.

Going the Distance: Filmed with a small team of three people, the cinematic scope of The Eagle Huntress is visually impressive and cleanly cut. Bell intimately captures the endearingly tender relationship between a father and daughter as he schools her in the way of the hunter, while also revealing the breathtaking icy landscapes of the isolated Asian country. The eye of the camera also changes when necessary to best preserve the realism of the documentary. GoPro footage of Aisholpan courageously climbing down a steep slope to obtain her baby eagle is expertly recorded with thrill and intensity, while various slow motion and tracking shot techniques are used to the advantage of capturing the majestic power of a swooping bird of prey going in for the kill.

Hope is the Thing with Feathers: The Eagle Huntress is not only a story of triumph and self-discovery, but one of resounding truth. Aisholpan’s journey towards her passion showcases someone who is profoundly mature for her age, and having a wild, winged companion resting on her arm is a testament to how she is able to tame unpredictable forces of nature with such ease. The trials and scrutinizing words she endures from her elders do not affect her in the slightest, thus the ribbon-wearing girl pushes forward in her quest to preserve a role in her nation’s history. Filled with charm, light-hearted humor, and amazing people, Bell’s documentary is picturesque enough to read like a scripted child’s adventure instead of events based in reality.

Victory Call: Although the uplifting subject matter takes center stage, The Eagle Huntress has a tastefully airy score featuring music by Jeff Peters and samples of an original song written and performed by pop star Sia specifically for the film. “Angel by the Wings” is an appropriate compromise for a sound that is both appealing to the masses and rhythmically in sync with the rousing beauty of the documentary, and serves as a theme that further emphasizes the point that the main protagonist (or the impressionable audience members that watch her) can do anything. Female empowerment is manifested through Sia’s soft yet raspy vocalizations, perfectly mirroring the fragile strength possessed by Aisholpan and her feathered friend.

 

This inspiring tale of determination is enough to make cynics
believe that the sky is the limit when it comes to achieving a dream.

The Eagle Huntress
4.5Overall Score
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