Coming out on Friday, Otto Bell’s documentary The Eagle Huntress follows Aisholpan, a 13-year old Kazakh girl, entering a prestigious annual contest of eagle hunters in Mongolia. We are witnesses to parts of the process of catching her feather friend, raise it, etc.
The Eagle Huntress is a beautiful object with great landscapes and central character. But in order to apparently appeal to a wider TV audience it is flooded in cheesy drama music and fast editing that doesn’t allow it to breathe. The post-sync almost kills it. Apparently Daisy Ridley wanted to be part of it so it is voiced over by our Jedi girl reading boring lines we don’t care about.
Bell tries to reconstruct a story, like re-enactment, that was already there. But he missed it even if it is well framed. Cultural conflicts, the strong subject of a young girl confronting traditions, are briefly mentioned but evacuated for cheaply constructed Hollywood melodrama. This keeps Eagle Huntress from transcending anything. The Eagle Huntress culture he is trying to introduce us to is lost in fast food film making.