Watch Urga

  • PG
  • 1991
  • 1 hr 49 min
  • 7.6  (3,821)

Set in the vast and remote Mongolian steppe, Urga is a deeply meditative portrait of two very different cultures and the unlikely bond between them. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Nikita Mikhalkov, the film explores the tension between modernity and tradition through the relationship between a Russian truck driver and a nomadic herder family.

At the heart of the story is the driver, Sergei (Vladimir Gostyukhin), who arrives in the dusty town of Ulan Bator to deliver supplies to a collective farm. He finds himself stranded when his truck breaks down and seeks refuge in the yurt of a young Mongolian woman named Dolgor (Badema) and her family. Despite the language barrier and cultural differences, the two begin to form a connection as they share meals, bond over music, and explore the vastness of the steppe together.

The film is shot in a slow and deliberate style, emphasizing the natural rhythms of life on the steppe. For long stretches, there is little dialogue as the camera lingers on the windswept landscapes and the daily routines of the herders, conveying a sense of timelessness and simplicity. Yet there is also a sense of unease, as the encroaching forces of modernity threaten the traditional way of life.

Throughout the film, there are subtle hints at the clash between old and new. Sergei's truck breaks down because of a faulty fuel pump made in the Soviet Union. The herders live in yurts made from felt, yet also watch TV and listen to pop music. The collective farm is plagued by bureaucracy and inefficiency, yet the workers are proud of their achievements.

As Sergei spends more time with Dolgor and her family, he begins to reexamine his own life and values. He is struck by the simplicity and harmony of their way of life, even as he sees the hardship and challenges they face. Dolgor, in turn, is drawn to Sergei's gentleness and warmth, even as she struggles to make sense of his strange customs and habits.

The film reaches a quiet but climactic moment when Sergei and Dolgor finally express their feelings for each other on the banks of a river. It is a brief but powerful scene, full of tenderness and vulnerability, and a testament to the power of human connection despite all odds.

Urga is a film that rewards patience and attentiveness, a rich and rewarding exploration of two vastly different cultures and the forces that bring them together. Anchored by strong performances and beautiful cinematography, it is a reminder of the simple joys and complexities of life, and the possibility of finding meaning and beauty in unexpected places.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 49 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.6  (3,821)