Review: Feminist falconry film The Eagle Huntress doesn’t quite fly

Spectacularly shot falconry film The Eagle Huntress. Picture: Sony Picture Classics

Spectacularly shot falconry film The Eagle Huntress. Picture: Sony Picture Classics - Credit: Archant

It's spectacuarly shot but with its contented unfazed subject, the girl power story arc fails to lift off.

The Eagle Huntress (U)


Aisholpan, a 13-year-old Mongolian girl who wants to be an eagle hunter, would seem to be a perfect subject for a documentary.

Her story is set against striking locations and is one of overcoming great odds and adversity – no girl has ever competed at the Golden Eagle Festival.

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To emphasize the point, a room of old men in silly hats appear to opine on how impractical it is for women to hunt with eagles, and how they should stay in the yurt and make tea.

Alternatively, she is a terrible subject for a film because she stubbornly refuses to 'go on a journey' with us. Whatever highs and lows she experiences, nothing wipes the enthusiastic smile off her face.

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Aisholpan is a stocky and steadfast specimen, with big red cheeks that transmit contentment. Nothing fazes her and she seems to breeze through every challenge.

There is a shot of the eagle landing on her arm for the first time and her face registers all of this with calm assurance and pleasure.

To be honest there doesn't seem to be a great deal to this eagle hunting lark.

There's a dramatic early sequence where they film her cheerfully capturing her bird on a dangerous cliff face but when the family up yurt for the summer to do some serious training, the whole process is passed off in a few minutes.

The actual competition is reminiscent of owling displays you might see in a country show on August Bank holiday.

Daisy Ridley from Star Wars has been drafted in to do little bits of narration and to drum up a slightly spurious girl power angle.

It is all beautifully shot and a cynic might wonder how they managed to do all the spectacular aerial footage, without interfering with what they were observing. Whatever little tricks the filmmakers were up to, the guilelessness of the people on screen balance it out.

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