Friday, July 25, 2008

Himalaya - l'enfance d'un chef (Himalaya)

This 1999 Eric Valli epic film is one breathtaking voyage into the high Nepalese Himalayas with extraordinary cinematography that shows unbelievable beautiful landscapes of the region at different altitudes, weather and time of the day. This is one film that if you want to have your own little trip to that remote part of the world you cannot miss it.

There is a story in the film and comes from a legend according to the DVD special features as is related to the moment a future tribe chief that is only a little kid becomes a man. As the kid father dies, the grandfather, Tinle, decides that the kid is now the chief as the only suitable man, Karma, lost Tinle’s trust when he suspects that killed his son only to become chief. With the winter approaching they need to go to the valley where they will exchange salt for grain, Tinle decides that he will lead the caravan with his grandson and the rest is the most impressive story of endurance and survival against natural elements that you can imagine in those very high altitudes of the world.

The story is simple but very powerful and even at times thrilling and tense, like when they decide to take the devils route. So, it is a feature film that definitively does not look like a documentary even when is documenting the life of villages in those remote parts of the world. As a matter of fact I strongly recommend to watch the making of this movie that comes with the DVD as it is really fascinating to learn how the filmmakers overcome all kind of troubles and situations with a mostly non-actors cast and unpredictable weather.

Then actually the story is an excellent excuse to allow viewers to see not only the life style of the Dolpo people on the Nepalese Plateau but also their traditional customs, for example the celestial burial. There is one professional actor exotic Lhakpa Tsamchoe that totally blends with the real chiefs, monks and real Dolpo people, you may remember her from her role in Seven Years in Tibet.

The movie was the first Nepalese movie nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2000 Academy Awards and is the winner of seven awards in European awards and festivals including 2 César for Best Cinematography and Best Music written for a film.

The film is not suited for all audiences as has a slow pace, very little dialogue and is totally art house; but I strongly recommend it to all that enjoy art house or art cinema.


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