Recently, recently in months, I've been looking back to my initial purpose moving to the mountains in 1976. Then, I had one neighbor up the road, Tom Pruitt. The road was gravel. Meadows on both sides of the roads for grazing cattle. Now a subdivision is up the road and Tom Pruitt's house is empty and gradually becoming a ruin of another time. Then, barns were everywhere in the county. Now you see a barn here and there, very seldom. They've fallen down. I call my time here the Time of the Falling Barns. The wood has given out. The wood that touches the ground has rotted and the wood in the sunlight has dried out until the barns are reduced to their skeletons, their basic structure. The life has gone out of them as the center for farm operations. Barns used now for Christmas tree operations have metal walls and roofs bolted to a cement slab. Churches are now going for that metal building construction with no windows on the cement slab.
The old churches made of wood that burned wood to keep warm in the winter have largely been abandoned, torn down, replaced by brick structures that are heated by oil, kerosene, propane or electricity, better insulated and cushions on the benches. The changes in the churches happens after the changes have happened in the homes of the members, who get used to central heat, cushions on chairs, gravel or paved parking lots instead of parking on the grass. These changes are the subjects of films all over the world now, people living in the transition from the old ways to the new. Young people listening to pop music, their grandparents still living the old ways, parents living in the new way and thinking in the old way.
So it was in the today's film, TULPAN. It was made on the steppes of Kazakhstan, which is a big country between Russia and India. The steppes are table-top flat as far as you can see in all directions, like that part of the American plains between Texas and North Dakota where it is table-top flat. The land had no trees and wind blowing all the time. The people lived in yurts like in Mongolia. The people looked like a cross between Greeks and Mongols. I suppose they would be called Eurasian people. Originally, all the -stans from Afghanistan east were once Kazakhstan. The land and the people I saw of Kazakhstan showed me the -stans are a westward extension of Mongolia. The Mongols plundered across the -stans, then Kazakhstan, all the way to Persia (Iran) and Turkey, into the Ukraine. Russian director, Tarkowsky, made a film of medieval times, Andrei Rublev, where he depicted the Mongols, also known as Tartars (hence, tartar sauce), killing all the people in a walled city of the Ukraine.
In this movie, Tulpan, it's a very simple story, if it is a story at all. A boy just out of the Russian Navy is staying with his sister who is married to a man who herds sheep and one of camels. The boy is looking for a wife, but the only woman in the area of marrying age doesn't like him and won't marry him. The boy wants to leave, but his sister wants him to stay, he learns some of the work with sheep, stays awhile, then leaves. The only suggestion to where he is going is to the city where he can find a wife and a job. In remotest Kazakhstan we see now these changes that came with electricity. The old people dressing and talking in the old-time ways. The young kids listening to transistor radios and wanting a television. All that is just a racket to the older people.
Looking at the people in this region of the world, hearing their language, seeing how they live, what's important to them, is of interest to me. I've always been curious about other cultures, their ways, how the people act out those ways. In my early years I wanted to know all the different kinds of people in my world. With that curiosity, I managed to meet and become acquainted with people from all over the world, not every place, but all the major reigions. I've known people of all races. Then there came a time I realized this is a world where everybody is motivated by different desires and it gets more and more complex finding out that I'm better off not knowing so many different kinds of people. I came to a place where I have found my own people, and don't care to spend any time away from my own people, who I think of as the people of these mountains where the old people dress like farmers and the kids dress like California surfers.