by Nathan Hamm on 10/31/2007 · 3 comments

Nomad arrived last week from Netflix, and Sunday night I finally got to see the movie that lazy Western journalists called a response to Borat. Actually, I shouldn’t say “got to.” It was more like “I had to” watch it on Sunday. You see, the Netflix account belongs to my better half, and she told me that if I did not watch the movie within a certain amount of time, it would be returned. (She tolerates the Central Asia stuff only so much.) She may not have realized what she was missing, considering her fondness for the recent glut of Chinese action epics. Because really, those are the types of films to which Nomad struck me as most comparable. It looks nice, was mildly entertaining, but it was a bit light on substance.

I agree with this review that the battle scenes were done well and that the landscape scenes were beautifully done. Kazakhstan can make some snazzy movies. But what I found most unintentionally entertaining were the political messages of the movie.

  • Kazakhs should work together: This comes up at multiple times.
  • Kazakhs should not divide themselves by clan: Erali and Mansur name themselves as being “Kazakh” when asked for their clan.
  • Don’t tread on Kazakhstan: Delivered at the end with the bonus assertion of historical claims to what are more or less Kazakhstan’s current borders.

Nomad is far from bad, but it’s not quite good either. It is a respectable historical action epic, and it has me looking forward to more movies from Kazakhstan reaching international audiences in the future.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Michael Hancock October 31, 2007 at 7:31 pm

The loved the ending especially, where the little boy brings the globe back from Ablaykhan [spelling escapes me temporarily] with the borders of Kazakhstan marked on it. Not too sure if I’m supposed to laugh or not – Cartography as we know it didn’t gain much from Asia. Lots of traveling, but little good map making.

Michael Hancock October 31, 2007 at 7:34 pm

The original packaging [in Russian and Kazakh] definitely lacks the American packaging flare. Seems like an obvious rip off of The 300. Oh well… Whatever sells, right? But I want to be straightforward in that I kind of liked it, too. Wish it could have been a little more substance, like Nathan said, and a little more honest about ‘national’ identity and how the unification of the hordes didn’t actually end well at all for the Kazakh people.

Joshua Foust October 31, 2007 at 10:52 pm

I’m with you that Kazakh cinema should get a fair shake in the west. Maybe they’ll avoid the MPAA somehow?

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