Jamila – the “world’s most beautiful love story” on film
CENTRAL ASIAN CINEMA. Jamila (1969) is the most famous film adaptation of Chingiz Aytmatov’s novel of the same name. The love story between Jamila and the injured ex-soldier Daniyar has become not only world literature, but also a classic of Central Asian cinema.
“Central Asian Cinema” is a series of collaborative articles written by different members of the Novastan team to share their favourite cinematographic moments about Central Asia. Each article describes a film produced or shot in Central Asia, available online.
Called by French writer Louis Aragon the “world’s most beautiful love story,” Jamila is probably the best-known work of Central Asian literature. The novel made Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov famous overnight. In 1969, it was followed by Irina Poplavskaya’s film Jamila, the most successful film adaptation of Chingiz Aitmatov’s novel, in which the author himself is heard as narrator.
A love story during the Second World War
The film takes place in Kyrgyzstan during the Second World War: together with his sister-in-law Jamila, 15-year-old Seit must take the harvest to the train station every day because the men are at war. Jamila, the wife of Seit’s older brother Sadyk, joined the family only a few months earlier as the result of a bride kidnapping. The injured soldier Daniyar, who accompanies the pair on their trips to the train station, is initially mocked – until Jamila recognises the richness of Daniyar’s heart and falls in love with him. Together they flee the aul, the village.
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Natalya Arinbasarova, who played Jamila in the film, probably influenced the image of Chingiz Aitmatov’s heroine we have today like no one else. A beautifully reproduced love story paired with magnificent landscape shots makes Poplavskaya’s Jamila a must-see.
Read more on Novastan: The Wounded Angel: a dramatic and profound portrait of 1990s rural Kazakhstan
Jamila is available (in Russian, with English subtitles) on YouTube.
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Novastan Editorial Team
Translated for English by Lawrence Brown
Edited by Anna Wilhelmi