6
votes

This is a movie I was told about, apparently it's hilarious and beautiful. I don't know when it was made, early 90ties the latest. The movie could be from anywhere but Russia or China seem most likely. Some elements:

The main plot involves a Mongolian nomad who wants to have sex with his wife. I think this is the opening shot: Wide steppe and a stick jutting out of the grass with a red kerchief tied to it, for privacy. She refuses because they have so many children already and he is sent to the city to buy condoms. When he finally enters a pharmacy he doesn't bring himself to ask the young female pharmacist for condoms.

Another character is a Russian truck driver who falls asleep at the wheel and drives off road, after waking up in the middle of nowhere he finds a corpse. When he terrifically tells some natives he meets about the corpse, they say "Sure, our uncle, we buried him there!" referring to traditional Mongolian burial practices.

Apparently the wide landscape of the Mongolian steppe features in many beautiful shots, at the same time there's lots of comedic gold in the confrontation between the nomad and a modern Chinese or Russian city.

I'd like to see it some day, what is it?

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  • 3
    Great description. My only issue with this question is that googling the title actually reveals the answer on the first page. – user7812 Jan 4 '16 at 10:30
6
votes

This is Close to Eden, originally released as Urga in 1991.

A Mongolian shepherd Gombo lives in a yurt in Inner Mongolia with his wife, three children, and mother. They are portrayed as unsophisticated and traditional and Gombo desires relations with his wife, to try for a fourth child, which puts his wife at unease due to Chinese law. Intoxicated Russian buffoonish truck driver Sergei has stranded himself, driving his truck into a river and is picked up by Gombo, taken to his family's yurt, to join him in dinner. Gombo's family are particularly taken with Sergei's back tattoos, later revealed to be sheet music for "On the Hills of Manchuria". Gombo and Sergei become mutual dependencies despite their language and cultural differences. Gombo and Sergei go into the nearest city together, where Gombo is supposed to buy contraceptives (condoms), buying a television set and other goods, but not contraceptives due to drugstore staff being women. Sergei, a former army bandsman, becomes drunk and sings "On the Hills of Manchuria" in a nightclub, with the band playing from his back tattoos. He is arrested and bailed out of jail by Gombo.

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