Taming the Horse, directed by Tao Gu, is a documentary that features a young man named Dong, who migrates from Hailar District in inner Mongolia, to the populous city of Kunming at an early age. He wants to return to Hailar, the "Pearl of the Grasslands," where he can immerse himself in the beauty of nature and the wilderness. He dreams of being an artistic photographer instead of a businessman in the jade market. But reality sets in when Dong begins to want a wife and buy a house.
The film captures the dilemma of the younger generation in an increasingly polarized society. The Chinese millennial population numbers over 400 million, according to Bloomberg. They are witnesses to China's rise to economical superpower at an unprecedented pace. Meanwhile, 15 percent of the income growth since 1980 has flowed to the richest 1 percent, according to the New York Times.
Suffocated with soaring housing prices and a competitive labor market, the millenials are placed on an unstoppable track toward becoming shrewd survival experts. There’s no room for poems and frivolous dreams.
In contrast with most of Dong’s peers, Gu characterizes Dong as a horse with a wild spirit. His “wild spirit” stems from his contempt for money as well as his persistent pursuit of true love and passion for photography and rock music.
The conflict in the film is weakened by Dong's lack of action regarding his love for art. Scenes of him taking photos, polishing his craft and fighting against societal pressures are absent and instead replaced by dialogue.
The film is thought-provoking and pushes viewers to question how they can find themselves while staying immune to the noise of the external world. It’s a question that confounds and bridles Dong. It’s a question each of us might never be able to escape from.
Currently Dong is an entrepreneur working in the teapot industry, says the film producer.