Wednesday, 26 May 2010


In the middle of the Uzbek desert, a blond-haired woman limps aimlessly, bandages adorning her body. Spied by a father and son team of hooded shepherds named Bo and Bu, she is fitted with a makeshift leash and dragged behind their cart like an animal. At first, Bo and Bu appear to show some affection for the woman, whom they name Ba. They feed her, wash her and take care of her as if she were a member of their flock. Before long, the two men find themselves vying for her attention, but are unable to shake off their obsessive objectification of her, and she is violently thrown around between the two like a ragdoll.

The film portrays the men as unpolished savages, unable to communicate beyond monosyllables. It is alleged that the film sparked controversy in various Central Asian countries for such a blunt depiction of the area, but director Ali Khamrayev quite pointedly does not associate the film with any specific country, saying only that it takes place “11,000km from New York”. In spite of this, the film seems to only really have one thing to say. The woman, played by Arielle Dombasle, stands apart from the backdrop as a blue-eyed, pink-lipped Barbie doll, an icon of all things European. Her presence in the desert alone seems to be the catalyst for the shepherds’ downfall, evoking a simple statement on European influence. Neither a straight drama nor a hilarious parody, Bo Ba Bu is an unusually mixed bag.

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