18th October 2015 1.00pm at BFI Southbank
In the Kalmykian desert a camel is born under a camel-shaped cloud. The signal means this is no ordinary camel however, but a magical, special, celestial camel. But it isn’t all smooth sailing from here: the camel is bought by a film crew and taken away by force from the farm where he was raised. His mother escapes in search of her colt, leaving twelve year-old Bayir to set off on a long journey in search of the camels he helped raise. On his quest he meets friends and foes alike, but the task of retrieving two humped cattle turns out to be slightly harder than expected.
Bayir’s travels through the desert will enthral any child with a spirit of adventure. A daring escape from a prison cell is one of the highlights of the film, and there are plenty of explosions and chases to keep young viewers entertained. The pace does start to drag in places, especially during the exultations of the titular camel who has yet to prove his celestial credentials. Skeptics may lose patience with these scenes, and even doubt that he’s special at all.
However, even the most inexperienced of children will see the ending coming. It’s not hard to guess whether Bayir will succeed in retrieving his camels, so the suspense created during tense scenes misses the mark. But the likeable young boy holds the film together with his innocent determination and charming demeanour.
Despite the film’s best efforts, it is very hard to take a camel seriously. Even when imbued with mystical powers, they are not animals which take naturally to looking dramatic and formidable. Instead, these moments are comedic, and not in the way the film intended. It is a credit to the direction that the film’s flaws do not distract from the finished product: a sweet if slightly slow children’s film. Even the accidental comedy can be forgiven; who can resist laughing at a camel?
Celestial Camel does not yet have a UK release date.
Watch the trailer for Celestial Camel here: