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The Eagle Huntress Blu-ray Review

The Eagle Huntress (2016) movie poster The Eagle Huntress

Theatrical Release: November 2, 2016 / Running Time: 87 Minutes / Rating: G

Director: Otto Bell / Producers: Stacey Reiss, Sharon Chang, Otto Bell

Narrator: Daisy Ridley / Tagline: The spellbinding true story of a 13-year-old girl on an epic journey to gain victory in a faraway land.

Subjects: Aisholpan Nurgaiv, Rys Nurgaiv, Bosaga Rys

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The UK's Otto Bell makes a strong directorial debut on The Eagle Huntress,
a film that made the Academy Awards' Best Documentary Feature short list of fifteen but failed to earn one of the category's five nominations. Bell's film takes us to Mongolia, where 13-year-old Aisholpan Nurgaiv attempts to become the first female around to hunt with eagles.

There is a storied tradition of using eagles to hunt for foxes and the like in Aisholpan's mountain homeland and especially in her family. Her father was twice crowned champion in the community's annual festival. Before him, her grandfather was an eagle hunter and so too were many generations of ancestors. The Mongols rely on eagle hunting for furs and food. None too surprisingly, the community's elders scoff at the notion of a barely teenaged girl trying to perform the task. To them, hunting is the exclusive domain of men.

But with her family encouraging and supporting her, Aisholpan dreams and trains hard. It hardly seems a spoiler to reveal that she actually wins the annual hunting festival, to some of the sexist old men's surprise. But this competition is not the real test for her. That arrives with winter, when Aisholpan has to brave the cold and dangerous cliffs to actually command her eagle to catch some prey.

The 2016 documentary "The Eagle Huntress" profiles Aisholpan Nurgaiv, a 13-year-old with a dream.

No one will dislike The Eagle Huntress. This G-rated picture is brisk, light, tidy, human, intimate, inspiring, and heartwarming. Daisy Ridley (Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and episodes yet to come) provides a tiny bit of English narration,
while the filmed subjects for the most part speak in their native Kazakh language, their words translated by subtitles.

These days, no new film seems completely impervious to controversy. This one has been hit by doubts towards its authenticity, based somewhat on the fact that Aisholpan is not quite the pioneer the film portrays (other female hunters have come before her).

While the film will not inspire you to go become an eagle hunter, it will enrich your view of the world, treating you to a culture and way of life far removed from your own.

After having performed quite well for a foreign language documentary, grossing nearly $3 million in North America where it opened last fall and peaked at just 122 theaters, The Eagle Huntress hits DVD and Blu-ray this week from Sony Pictures Classics.

The Eagle Huntress Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.851 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (Kazakh with English Narration), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish, French
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English, English SDH, and Spanish
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Suggested Retail Price: $30.99
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap
Also available on DVD ($26.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video


The Eagle Huntress boasts some pleasing visuals of vivid blue skies and white snows, along with some impressive mountain views. The Blu-ray's crisp 1.85:1 presentation shares the imagery with no complications. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix, identified as a Kazakh track which it mostly is, is good too. Oddly, Sony only offers English and English SDH subtitles that transcribe Ridley's narration in addition to translating the subjects' Kazakh dialogue.

Rys Nurgaiv, Aisholpan, Daisy Ridley, and director Otto Bell pose for a red carpet photo at the Eagle Huntress premiere. The Eagle Huntress Blu-ray's basic main menu adapts the film's theatrical poster art, which also has been recycled as a cover image.


The Blu-ray's extras begin with an audio commentary by director-producer Otto Bell.
He provides many details and specifics regarding the doc's filming, though most will probably find it more than they needed to know.

On the video side, we get "Capturing The Eagle Huntress" (10:27), a fine making-of documentary in which Bell and (secondary) cinematographer Martina Radwan discuss their experiences making the movie, from getting the family's cooperation to using various cameras (drones, a helmet camera on an eagle) to get the shots needed. Bell also elaborates on how getting Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) to executive produce led to Ridley signing up for narrator duties.

Finally, we get The Eagle Huntress' original theatrical trailer (1:40), which Sony Pictures Classics is usually good about including.

No slipcover, inserts, or previews are found here. The full-color disc is held in a side-snapped keepcase. The simple, static menu is accompanied by score.

Aisholpan can't help but smile after winning first place at the annual eagle hunting festival.


There are documentaries that move you, educate you, and make you think. Then there are those like The Eagle Huntress, which simply exposes you to a culture and traditions far from your own and holds you captive in the process. Otto Bell's feel-good film deserves a look for anyone fond of documentaries. Sony's Blu-ray is the best way to give it that look with some substantial extras complementing a practically first-rate feature presentation.

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Reviewed February 6, 2017.

Text copyright 2017 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 Sony Pictures Classics, 19340 Productions, Artemis Rising Foundation, Impact Partners, Shine Global, Warrior Poets,
and 2017 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.