Himalaya (1999)

Thilen Lhondup, Gurgon Kyap, Lhakpa Tsamchoe, Karma Wangel,
Himalaya - l'enfance d'un chef is a movie starring Thilen Lhondup, Gurgon Kyap, and Lhakpa Tsamchoe. An aging chief's last stand, lessons for the new, and the education of a young chief-to-be played against harsh Nature in Nepal's...
  • 7.5 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Nathalie Azoulai, Olivier Dazat, Louis Gardel, Jean-Claude Guillebaud, Writer:
  • Eric Valli, Michel Debats, Director:
  • Producer:


7 / 10

Real People, Rugged Place

The film, set in a remote Himalayan village in Nepal, is gorgeous start-to-finish, a labor of love by those who made it over a long period of time. The cinematography gets a lot of good "press," and rightfully so, but what I really enjoyed was the soundtrack. I expected the good visuals, and got them, but I didn't expect such wonderful music.

As for the look, it's different, with rugged barren mountain village terrain and snow-topped Himalayas in background, although we don't enjoy those until almost 50 minutes into the film.

What's really different, however is the fact the film employed no professional actors. These were real people of that area! They also faces you won't soon forget.

As for the story, the treks don't begin until 45 minutes has gone by in the film. You have to be patient. Much of that first part, people argue back and forth on the merits of making the trip and who would and should be going. Finally, we wind up with two separate camps: the younger guy "Karma" and his crowd and the older man, "Tinle," who takes his son, grandchild and his mother,and mainly older friends of the stubborn old coot of a leader.

Old man Tinle does nothing but bitch and moan most of the movie but people do their share of complaining to him, too. Yet, I found nobody unlikable for some strange reason. Most of the time, nobody in this village appears happy. These people must love to argue!

As one man say, speaking of Tinle: "Trying to talk to him is like trying to stop the snow from falling."

I liked the following: when asked why he changed his mind about going on the trip with Tinle, his son and lama-artist "Norbou,"" told his father, "After you left the monastery, I remembered what one of my masters said: "when two paths open up before you, always take the hard one."

I also thought the yaks were fascinating. . I'd like to know more about them after watching this movie.

Overall, it's a dramatic and touching adventure story. that will reward you if you can hang with it for first three-quarters of an hour. It also will make you grateful you weren't born in this part of the country.

10 / 10

a work of art

If you believe film should be an artform, then you'll love Himalaya. As the director states in the bonus audio track, the production team did not identify and write to a "target market" when developing the screen writing, they did not follow the dreary Hollywood "recipe" for film-making, and, most importantly, they did use non-actors to portray almost all the lead and back-up roles.

Tinle, the lead character, is a treasure. The first time I viewed the movie, I thought, 'what a wonderful actor.' His timing is exact yet unpredictable, his personality forceful, his face is exquisite, his form unique and authentic. A natural, I thought. Indeed, he plays himself in a quasi-autobiography, and what a wonderful character he is.

This is a movie about an ancient civilization we are losing and, sadly, will soon be lost. Really, its a documentary, and, as the director states, will certainly be used by future historians as a visual artifact of what is soon to become the lost Dolpo civilization of Nepal. The soundtrack conditions you to this heartbreaking reality.

The movie is successful on many levels: a mother's lost love (who hasn't seen her adult child since he was eight); a loving grandfather/grandson relationship, which is painfully lost; a wife who loses her husband, and a young boy who loses his father then attempts to make sense out of the loss; a young religious man who chooses the 'difficult' path over the easy monastic life; a classic confrontation between generations; and an old man whose entire life is built on strength, perseverance, and admiration, but then who ultimately must let go of it all to those who are destined to succeed him.

I loved this movie. It made me think of my mother, an artist, whom I miss dearly. Himalaya is a work of art.

8 / 10

Stunning cinematography

This film is simply beautiful to watch. The cinematography is absolutely stunning, the music and directorial mood is captivating. The film is light on plot and the little bit of intrigue sort of fades away, but that really doesn't matter.

I have been to the Himalayas (Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan) and it is really hard to capture the exquisite beauty of the place and the grace of the Buddhist people who dwell there. This film captures that beauty and grace.

If you have any interest in that part of the world and its people, this film will hold your attention and inspire your imagination. How? I don't know, perhaps some of that Himalayan magic rubbed off on the film crew.

10 / 10

Excellent ethnographic viewpoint

One reviewer asks if we (Westerners) can ever see the world through another's (non-Westerner) eyes. Good question. There's no 'yes' or 'no' answer because we can't get into people's heads. The cultural viewpoint from the standpoint of the actor in the cultural setting is always different from the outsider. As intruders into that world, we can observe, wonder and learn. Yes, indeed like voyeurs, my friend but these are not "primitive" people. These are people who have adapted to a way of life and developed means of coping with it. Since many of these people live isolated lives, the cultural diffusion of technology invades their worlds slowly. (We anthropologists see this fact as a mercy) This film is a wonder. As one reviewer asks, can we watch a film for over a 100 minutes of people walking? It depends. What do you want? Adventure? Rent a Hollywood spawn with phony chases, lots of CGI and god-awful writing. This is a simple story but one basic to the human condition. Loss, death, coming of age, transition, love and resurrection. This film is full of archetypes but without the contrived devices found in so many Western films. The adventure is that of the daily lives of these people who live always on the edge. It is most unfair to judge this simple tale and its depiction from the same viewpoint of another mythic journey. There's only the violence of nature and the triumph of human will to survive-- not happily ever after, but just for another day. As an anthropologist who spent over 25 years working with pastoralists (nomadic herders) in Africa, Central Asia, South America and the Middle East, I was delighted with this unpretentious story. I never worked with yak or reindeer [I highly recommend the exceptional "Pathfinder" for an excellent view of the Lapps]herders and the presentation certainly squared with everything I've read about these dynamic, wonderful people.

10 / 10

Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful

I don't rate movie's at a ten lightly so when thinking about what to rate this Cinematic experience (it's not just movie or film) but i will refer to it as that from here on, i was going to give it an 8 or 9 but the more i thought about it the more i realized that the only reason for this would be that it's not a film that fits into the top ten watch and say wow films and just because it hasn't won as many awards as lord of the rings (which i love and probably is'nt as good as this) doesn't mean that it has to affect how good this movie really is. Watching this movie is like watching the sun rise or watching the love of your life sleeping next to you, when you see something like that it just hits you with wonder. It has beautiful people with very interactive character personalities, very good acting (even by the yaks ha ha) it makes you wonder if they are just being themselves, nearly ever line in this movie has meaning, lines like "stop praying and lets go" makes this movie so much more human. A lot of the characters especially Karma have a lot more of a "western" way about them than what you would expect and that is probably another thing about this movie that gives it even more attraction to the western type audience. The camera work and locations are just the right balance to make you forget your watching a movie and think your on holidays in the mountains, the music and sounds are also just the right touch. If this was a big budget jerry bruckheimer or oliver stone movie this would have gotten the attention it deserves (but probably wouldn't be as good ha). I probably enjoyed this movie even more by not expecting much from it i didn't even want to see it (i wanted to see star wars) Any movie that makes you feel that you would love to be one of them and give up your x-box and trek through the snow has to be good. This is definitely one of those movies you have to put in your WATCH BEFORE YOU DIE pile.