Set against some of the most spectacular scenery ever seen on film, Himalaya tells the story of a generational struggle for the leadership of a tiny mountain village between its proud old chief and a headstrong young carav... more »aner. The balance of power shifts uneasily as they make their annual salt trek across the Himalayas. Director Eric Valli is a photographer and an author whose work is regularly published in National Geographic, Geo, The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, and Life. He has been living in Nepal since 1983 and his first journey through the Dolpo (northwest region of Nepal) dates back to this period. He wrote several books about this country before shooting HIMALAYA in 1997. In 1992, he was awarded the Gurka Dakshin Baho award from His Majesty the King of Nepal for his body of work on the country.« less
Schuylar L. (schuym1) from SIOUX CITY, IA Reviewed on 3/27/2020...
This is a magnificently shot film with beautiful scenery. The plot is about the Dolpo people of Nepal who are on a journey through the mountains with their yaks to trade their salt for grain. Two ways of leading the caravan and being a chief are competing against each other, the old ways of following the gods and the new ways of the young caravanner. This is an epic journey that enfolds onscreen.
A SPELLBINDING AND MAGNIFICENT FILM...
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 07/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film has some of most breathtaking scenery ever filmed. Shot high up in a remote area of the Himalayas that has seen very few foreigners, it focuses on the Tibetan people who live in an area of the mountains called Dolpo. These people are referred to as Dolpopas. The love that the director, Eric Valli, has for this region of the world is palpable with the loving care and attention to detail that is lavished on this production. Shot at heights of up to 17,400 feet, this film is a tremendous achievement both cinematically and historically, as it locks in time a little known culture and way of life.
The story, which is based upon real life events, details a generational struggle between the young and the old. The storyline is simple. This isolated village is dependent upon trading its salt for grain, so that the village may survive. To do so, a caravan of yaks must make an arduous trek through the Himalayan Mountains to Nepal to effect such a trade. When one such caravan returns to the village, the caravan chief, is dead and his body has been brought back to the village by his best friend, Karma. The dead chief's father and tribal council memeber, Tinle, crazed with grief, suspects Karma of having brought about his son's death in an attempt to take his place as chief of the caravan. His dead son has left behind a beautiful wife, Pema, whom Karma covets, and a young son, whom Tinle wants designated as chief, despite his youth.
This sets into play a power struggle between Tinle and Karma, both of whom are headstrong and willful. After the traditional sky burial for the dead caravan chief, this clash of wills results in two separate caravans setting out on the salt trading trek. One is led by Karma who, accompanied by the village youth, defiantly leads his caravan out of the village before the date designated by the village lamas. The other is led by Tinle, who has persuaded his other son, Norbou, a Buddhist monk, to assist him. Accompanied by Norbou the elders of his village, as well as by his dead son's widow and young son, Tinle follows tradition and leaves on the date that the lamas have designated as being most propitious for the difficult journey. The film details each of the respective journeys, as well as the continuing battle of wills between the two leaders. The risks that Tinle takes on the journey in order to to catch up with Karma is captured in all its starkly beautiful, cinematic majesty and will leave viewers sitting on the edge of their seats.
Set against a breathtaking backdrop of Himalayan beauty, this is a must see film. The performances by those in lead roles are compelling. Thilen Lhondup, a real life former yak man who had fled Tibet during its invasion by China, is charismatic and powerful as Tinle. Gurgon Kyap imbues the role of the headstrong Karma with a youthful vigor and machismo. Lhakpa Tsamchoe, an exotic beauty who hails from Southern India by way of Tibetan parents, is wonderfully serene in the role of Pema. Karma Wangel is absolutely adorable as Tinle's grandson and will steal the viewers' hearts.
Anthropologically rich and visually beautiful, it took the director nine months to film this movie. The daunting logistics, the unpredictable weather, and the use of mostly non actors contributed to this being a time consuming project. In order to maintain as much authenticity as possible, this film was shot entirely on location and the villagers even wore their own clothing in the film. The director's care and effort paid off, however, as this is one of the most stunningly beautiful films ever made. The musical score by Bruno Coulais is haunting, capturing the soaring majesty of the region, as well as some of its mystique. It also offers what I believe to be Tibetan throat singing, a somewhat esoteric form of singing/chanting not often heard in the western world.
This film, which was first released under the title "Caravan", was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2000. I believe that it lost to Pedro Almodovar's film, "About My Mother", which is also an excellent movie. Having seen both films, however, there is no doubt in my mind that Valli's film should have been the one to walk away with the Academy Award.
The DVD is first rate, providing crystal clear visuals and audio. It is a value laden DVD, loaded with a number of interesting features. It offers a terrific director's commentary, as well as a delightful and informative featurette by Debra Kellner on the making of the film. There is also another interesting featurette, entitled "Electronic Press Kit", that contains some intriguing film clips and montages as to how certain things were done on the film, given the daunting logistics. This is a must have DVD for those who are interested in other cultures, the Himalayas, and, quite simply, a great film. Bravo!"
Robin Simmons | Palm Springs area, CA United States | 03/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The stupendous location of the most spectacular mountains on earth is the stage for "HIMALAYA" (Kino). Shown last year to great acclaim here at the Palm Springs International Film Festival (under another title), the story is about a tribal power struggle between a proud aging chief and a willful young challenger. The elder wants to wait for the proper date as set by the oracle and the young guy doesn't want to delay the start of the annual yak caravan salt trek and risk the threat of bad weather. This contest between men and mountain is as breathtakingly beautiful as any film that comes to mind. Perhaps even rivaling Terence Malnick's "Days of Heaven." There's a spiritual center to this extraordinary film that puts "A.I." to shame -- and at a fraction of the cost.Director Eric Valli, a National Geographic photographer, lives in Nepal. The amateur cast of high mountain Tibetans is refreshingly natural. The exotic soundtrack is by Bruno Coulais. This masterpiece deserves discovery. The images will shimmer in your dreams for days."
Review of himalaya - l'enfance d'un chef
jamie wilkes | bournemouth, england | 08/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"i saw this wonderful film on the plane on the way back from india, and i've been trying to find it ever since. this simple and affecting story of a chief's attempts to save his village from starvation affected me deeply, as it will anyone who has had their fill of hollywood trash. it is superbly filmed and captures the harsh natural beauty of the 'land of snows', and deals sensitively with the universal themes of loss, mourning, and human endeavour. if you've ever been to the himalayas this film will bring it all back, and if you haven't been it is enough to make you want to go. i can't recommend it enough!"
A Hidden Treasure
Anil Thapa | Sydney, NSW Australia | 01/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This wonderful film gets my nod when it has been nominated for academic award for the best foreign film 2000. I have watched this movie today and really excited to write a review. It's an inspirational, coming-of-age, story about Chief's pursuit to look after the people in his village Dolpa and the obstacles in his path. I have been to Dolpa, infact I have seen these people around having same kind of life. The people in the movie are real and their customs are real too. The story has been greatly supported by mind blowing scenic view of Nepal and its culture. The himalayas, villages, Foksandu lake are real and it has become the heart of this movie. On top of that this movie also reflects the culture which is dying at this information age. Thanks for the director and photographer for creating such a nice movie."
An extraordinary, unique film
Gustavo A. Fierro-Carrion | Midland, Texas United States | 12/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Himalaya - l'enfance d'un chef" is the crowning achievement of French anthropologist Eric Valli who for years has researched and documented the trade routes and yak caravans of the remote, isolated inner Dolpo region in north-central Nepal. This is NOT, as one reviewer has stated, a film about "tibetan merchants harvesting salt". The yak herders in "Himalaya - l'enfance d'un chef" are from Dolpo, where for centuries salt, which is abundant in Dolpo, has been traded for grain and black tea from the Tibetan high plateau, across the hazardous high passes leading to Tibet.The central theme of the film is the rivalry between an old but experienced yak herder whose son was village chief but has just been killed while on caravan, and a young, inexperienced but very strong herder who believes the leadership role is his due.
The film captures masterfully the unforgiving harshness but breathtaking majesty of the mountains and the challenges of surviving in a rigorous environment. But above all, one is taken inside a village and its people in inner Dolpo and provided with a vivid portrait of life in the high, remote Himalaya, a life full of hardship but also full of clarity, simplicity, and joy.Himalayan Mahayana Bhuddism is an integral element here, represented by the dead chief's brother who is a monk. There are no references to Bon-po, the ancient religion that predates Bhuddism by several centuries and which is still practiced in Dolpo.To be appreciated fully, "Himalaya - l'enfance d'un chef" should be seen on the big screen. It will lose a lot if ever converted to video."