Times Educational Supplement Partner badge

Film Education - Resources, Training, Events

Skip to main content

Follow us on: Twitter, Facebook RSS
Email this page to a friend

The Cave of The Yellow Dog

Traditions, Values and Beliefs


"Everyone dies, but no one is dead"

Mongolian people have a strong belief in reincarnation. Reincarnation is the belief that when a person or an animal dies they will come back to life in a different body. In The Cave of the Yellow Dog the elderly lady that Nansal visits explains that although all people are reincarnated it is hard to be re-born as a human and that is why human life is so valuable. The lady also explains that only children can remember their past lives which is why they tell such colourful stories.


  • Mongolia is traditionally a Buddhist country which is why many people believe in reincarnation or rebirth. Use the Internet and information books to find out more about Buddhist beliefs and reincarnation.
  • Carry out research to find out which other religions also believe in reincarnation. Are there any differences in the concept of 'reincarnation' for each religion?

There are as many versions of a story as there are tongues telling it.


Mongolian people have a tradition of folktales which are passed on to the next generation through verbal re-telling. Every narrator embroiders the tale a little bit more, adding details that were not in the original tale or maybe forgetting a few original details. Mongolian folktales can be roughly divided into four groups: legends, animal tales, tales about everyday life and magical and riddle tales.


  • In The Cave of the Yellow Dog, Nansal meets an old lady who tells her the folktale about the Yellow Dog. The tale is about a girl who falls ill. Her father is told that for his daughter to get well again he must get rid of her yellow dog. The father cannot bring himself to kill the dog so he takes it to a cave, and seals the cave entrance with a boulder. The father goes to the cave everyday to feed the dog until one day the dog disappears. The daughter recovers from her illness, meets a young man (possibly the reincarnation of her dog) and falls in love.
  • Why do you think the director chose to include this folktale in the film? After watching the film, think about how the folktale is similar or different to the film's narrative. What meaning does the fable add to the film?
  • Use the Internet to find out more about Mongolian folktales. Find an example which you would like to develop into a film and design a film poster to promote your film. Your poster will need to be eye-catching and contain images which give clues to the film’s narrative.

Do you think filmmakers are modern day storytellers? Discuss the arguments for and against this theory.