Finally, “The Big Animal” arrived in the mail. Netflix kept telling me it had never heard of such a movie, but I thought, “Impossible!” Netflix knows everything. The review I had read a year ago described the premise of the movie as something like: the circus pulls out of town and a camel is left behind. Simple. But the fate of the camel has been bothering me ever since, so I was happy to discover that the 2006 movie had finally been released on DVD.
This little gem is a a 72-minute black and white fable set in a small Polish village. The abandoned camel clomps into the yard of a startled couple who adopt it, and you fall in love with him as they do. The townspeople, however, quickly turn against the couple and their beast—their intolerance a commentary on the Communist era, apparently (at least that’s what the Netflix sleeve said; again, Netflix knows everything). The camel’s future is fraught with obstacles as big as its mountainous humps topped with tufts of fur.
Of course, I may be biased given my affinity for camels. I first fell in love with them after reading “Tracks,” Robyn Davidson’s account of crossing the Australian desert with her merry band of camels. I read the book for a travel writing class and found it well written and hilarious; each quirky camel was a total character.
Then there was “The Story of the Weeping Camel,” a documentary/feature hybrid out of Mongolia, another interesting film that tells the story of an albino camel shunned by its mother. It’s a tear jerker. Really. Stop laughing.