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Thursday, September 8, 2016

'Lamb' DVD: An Ethiopian Boy and His Sheep Story


Icarus Films continues an awesome expansion from DVD releases of "innovative and provocative" documentaries into releasing "innovative and provocative" fictional films with the September 6, 2016 release of the 2105 French drama "Lamb." This shot-on-location film is set in Ethiopia and tells of young half-Jewish boy Ephraim and his pet sheep Chuni. The efforts of this lad to keep his pet from becoming dinner is only the tip of the iceberg regarding this beautifully filmed and well-acted movie. Other special aspects of this subtitled movie include the rare chance to hear the ancient language Amharic spoken.

"Lamb" opens with Ephraim and Chuni living a simple but happy life in their village with the recently widowed father of the former. The death of the mother of Ephraim and other circumstances prompt the father to have Ephraim and Chuni live in a larger rural community with the grandmother of Ephraim and other relatives while the father moves to the big city to find work.

Existing tension related to Ephraim being much more skilled at and interested in cooking than doing "man's" work and his considering Chuni a pet quickly escalates on sharing a home with his uncle, who is far less sympathetic than his father. Ephraim further must contend with being an unwanted outsider and with having a strong desire to return home.

Much of the film revolves around the associated efforts of Ephraim to protect his lamb from literally being led to the slaughter and to return home making things more difficult for both him and his family. One example of this is Ephraim and Chuni wandering into a forbidden area endangering both the life of Chuni and the high status of the relatives of Ephraim.

Much of the power of the film comes from the timeless and universal themes in it. Stories of a poor orphan boy being dumped on reluctant relatives have been around for centuries; the same is true regarding boys (and girls) deeply bonding with pets. The element of placing more value on the life of a pet than the badly needed food that that animal can provide is another strong element of "Lamb."

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Lamb" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.