The Eagle Huntress Movie Review
Times they are a changing. First we allow them to vote. Then control over their own bodies. Equal pay is on the horizon. And now… we’re allowing girls to be eagle hunters? What has the world come to?
The Eagle Huntress is an inspiring documentary about a 13-year-old Mongolian girl named Aisholpan who wants nothing more than to follow in her father’s footsteps and become an eagle hunter—someone who uses a trained eagle to hunt foxes in the wilderness and compete in tournaments. The problem: up until now, only men have been allowed to be eagle hunters.
Women are weak.
Women get cold.
Those aren’t my words. Those are a few of the reasons laid out by elders as to why the fairer gender are not suited to be eagle hunters. Filmmaker Otto Bell doesn’t spend a lot of time with the older generation of hunters—he keeps things pretty surface level in this regard—but the sentiment is quite clear that traditions shouldn’t be broken.
Anyway. The Eagle Huntress won’t win any awards for its exploration of gender dynamics, and frankly, that’s not the interesting part of the movie. Bell combines beautiful photography—set against the snowcapped Himalayans and Mongolian highlands—with a heartwarming story of a girl defying convention to do what she loves to do.
The movie is largely an enjoyable affair, with Aishoplan serving as a likable and charming protagonist and her caring father Rys as a supportive sidekick. Bell captures some terrific moments—most notably during the hunting sequences that make up the film’s climax—that look especially good on a very large television.
At the same time, the documentary covers a fairly inconsequential topic. Even at only 88 minutes, the movie feels stretched—the story could have been told in an hour without any substance lost. The Eagle Huntress is a gorgeously shot and easy-to-watch (and family friendly) documentary, but that’s about it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.