MoMA Presents: Ulrike Ottinger’s Johanna D’Arc of Mongolia

May 24–30, 2017


Johanna D’Arc of Mongolia. 1989. West Germany/France. Written and directed by Ulrike Ottinger

Taken hostage by the exotic, fierce Mongolian princess Ulan Iga, a group of Western women spend a summer as captives in her nomadic tent village, where they learn the fascinating customs of the princess's enigmatic kinsmen. And while the harshness of the Mongolian high desert is initially a trial for the pampered women, they ultimately adapt to these unfamiliar yet exhilarating experiences. Lady Windermere, a veteran ethnologist who also speaks Mongolian, finds herself the de facto leader of the women, while the young Giovanna, still very much a naïf, proves completely open to the traditions Princess Ulan Iga shares with her.

Frequently eschewing narrative, incorporating incongruous characters, and capturing extended moments of arresting beauty and stunning landscapes, director Ulrike Ottinger takes the viewer on a nearly three-hour tour, during which disparate cultures collide but find common ground and, ultimately, a harmonious conclusion.

Organized by Anne Morra, Associate Curator, Department of Film.

Special thanks to Women Make Movies.

  • This film series is part of MoMA Presents.

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