This film follows 13 year old Aishoplan as she becomes the first female eagle hunter in Kazakh history. We see her with her family, helping with the family farm work, and staying in town where she and her siblings are at school through the week.
She comes from a long line of eagle hunters, but they re always men as women are deemed too fragile, no stamina, or just should stay at home, according to many other hunters. But her family encourage her, and she goes to the mountains with her father to find a young eagle to train.
It’s dramatic stuff, and Aishoplan comes across as a smily young girl who loves bows and ribbons in her hair. But she is tough enough to train her eagle; there is a lovely moment when she is feeding it, she puts its wing round her shoulder. There is real love and respect between the birds and their trainers, with lots of stroking and grooming of the birds with no fear of heir sharp beaks and talons. These are people at ease with the animals and the natural world. The eagles are only kept for 7 years, then returned to the wild which seems kind, though I wonder if they can survive after being raised in human society.
Aishoplan enters the annual competition, the youngest and the first female to do so. I won’t spoil it, but I did find the dramatic music a bit intrusive. The pounding drums echoing the horses pounding hooves etc.
The film is narrated and co-produced by Daisy Ridley and has some spectacular natural scenery and provides a fascinating insight into the lives of these isolated people. It also echoes a theme that I often find in my history research, that women can be less oppressed than they might appear. She was allowed to compete with men, though some muttered about her weakness, but once she showed her stuff she was welcomed.
Watching her travelling on horseback holding her eagle seemed effortless, but the bird weighs 15 pound. Try holding your arm up with that weight for hours while you ride a horse over rugged terrain. Aishoplan is a real star, and a reminder of how tough country people are. A great, inspiring film.