A Bigger World – film review

A Bigger World - Poster
A Bigger World – Poster

This week the French film “Un monde plus grand” (A Bigger World) was released in Germany and I knew right away that I would like it. On the one hand, it is mostly about Mongolia, a country that has been magically attracting me for a long time. On the other hand, it tells the story of a woman who finds her gift and purpose in life. The film is based on the real story of Corine Sombrun, which was documented in the book “Mon initiation chez les chamanes”. Check out my film review.

No growth without suffering

Corine travels to northern Mongolia
Corine travels to northern Mongolia

The film A Bigger World begins with the insight that the protagonist is deeply affected by the death of her husband Paul. And as often happens, great suffering is the driving force for growth and change. In order to cope with the pain, sound engineer Corine sets off on a long journey to the far north of Mongolia. There she wants to collect ethnographic sound recordings from the Tsaatan, a small nomadic people of reindeer herders, for a documentary about spirituality.

The Call of the Wolf

Corine gets to know the life of the Tsaatan
Corine gets to know the life of the Tsaatan

After a rather exhausting journey by minibus and on horseback through the beautiful vastness of Mongolia, Corine reaches the yurt village of the Tsaatan. Accompanied by the interpreter Naraa, she gets to know the everyday life of the nomads, who live in harmony with animals and nature. When she finally attends the ritual of the old shaman Oyun to perform her sound recordings, she falls into an extremely intense state of trance under the influence of the loud drumbeats. She twitches all over her body and makes the wild sounds of a wolf. When she regains consciousness, Oyun urgently advises her to receive proper shamanic instruction – otherwise, it could have dangerous consequences for her. But Corine dismisses all this as “hocus-pocus” and doesn’t want to know anything about it. She travels back to France.

Training as a shaman

Corine's chamanic teacher Oyun
Corine’s shamanic teacher Oyun

In Paris, Corine discovers that just listening to her sound recordings always brings her back to a state of trance. She undergoes various medical tests and finally goes into psychological treatment on the advice of her sister. But instead of really helping her, they want to medically sedate her and relieve her suffering. Soon the protagonist makes the decision to return to Mongolia and become a shaman. The rest of the film shows in beautiful, sometimes frightening pictures and extremely touching how the western European slowly becomes a wild, natural and intuitive shaman. This path is full of sacrifices and setbacks but finally crowned with success.

Reunion with Paul

Corine learns to be a shaman
Corine learns to be a shaman

One of the highlights of the film is the moment when Corine finally reconnects with her dead husband in a trance. This may be a very emotional scene, but at the same time, it’s also my only point of critique of the movie. It seems a bit as if Corine only became a shaman in order to see Paul again. But in the original book “Mon initiation chez les chamanes” Corine Sombrun experiences her way to become a shaman, above all as a journey to herself, to her creativity and to her true purpose in life. At least the film also shows how the protagonist – just like in real life – has her trance states examined by cognitive and neuroscientific means, thus contributing to the first studies in this field.

The refusal of the call

Mongolia: What a wonderful landscape!
Mongolia: What a wonderful landscape!

The mythologist Joseph Campbell has studied and compared heroic tales all over the world. He discovered that they are all arranged in a fixed sequence of phases. The call of adventure (purpose) is usually always followed by the protagonist’s refusal. This is also what happens in the film A Bigger World: Corine does not want to give up her previous life and habitual beliefs at any price. The unknown triggers far too much fear. For me personally, this was one of the most important food for thought in the film. I asked myself how many times in my life I have already avoided a hint, a call, an invitation to my true purpose. Where would I be now if my past decisions weren’t guided by fear? And more importantly, how can I become more sensitive to life’s calls in the future and trade fears for trust?

I strongly believe that we are born with a purpose, a gift, a meaning in life. What do you think about it? Do you have a longing or a dream, but are too afraid of simply realizing it? Do you also know this fight between the heart and the mind? How do you deal with it? – Feel free to write it in the comments!

In any case I recommend you to watch this film:

Trailer: A Bigger World

All pictures in this blog post are copyrighted by Haut et Court / 3×7 Production:



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Nils Manuel Mora

On this blog, I record my adventures, journeys, experiences, thoughts, and ideas. If you don't want to miss any of it, subscribe to my newsletter.