Hot on the heels of his adventures in the Sahara, Michael Palin takes on the abode of snow and begins a 2000-mile journey across this mighty and majestic region of Asia. Encountering extremes of wealth and poverty, altitud... more »e and freezing cold, he once again brings his unique wit, charm and wisdom to each of 6 episodes. Along the way he encounters, among many others, the Dalai Lama, the Bhutanese Royal Family and the once feared head hunting tribe of the Konyak. While on his travels he passes through Afghanistan, across India to the feared Death Zone near the base of Mount Everest and then onto the Bhutanese capital before arriving in the Bay of Bengal.DVD Features:
"Palin seems to have been infected by the mountain air - he absolutely bounds with giddy dleight through this series!
Recently, Palin's most recent travel documentaries have been watched and received with great anticipation, but there is an air of 'tiredness' hanging over them - emphasised more by the fact Palin's first efforts, "Around the world in 80 days" and "Pole to Pole" are being regularly shown now on cable channels, reminding us of his infectious enthusiasm, delight in mixing with the local people and response to seeing new things. By the time he completed "Full Circle," it was clear the travel was beginning to burn him out - and "Full Circle" was a monumental volume of work!
But with Himalaya, I am pleased to say he is back in fine form, he seems to absolutely delight in meeting and chatting with the people of the Himalaya's. He joins in their celebrations, their lives. The editing is superb - the majestic and breathtaking beauty of the landscape a constant reminder to pack one's bags and go! Its also great to see him and his guide hooked up with wireless microphones so now there are shots of them strolling through market places and you get to see more of the people going about their daily business around them as opposed to earlier days when shots of Palin with his guide would have had to been close ups to accomodate the (hidden) microphone overhead. It all adds up to one slick and very entertaining program!
The music is also magical - why isn't it out on CD?!
This maybe the last travel documentary by Palin, but he went out on a magnificent high point - literally I guess! This is defintely the best thing he has been in since "Around the world in 80 days" and I can't imagine anyone not wanting to pack their bags and go and see these sights for themselves after this show! I truly envy Palin and the opportunity he has been given with these shows, but he makes up for that the best travel documentaries ever made - I applaud him and everyone in the making of Himalaya - fantastic!"
Next best thing to going on your own.
Anaguma | Platteville, WI USA | 09/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beginning at the Khyber Pass, and taking in the Chitra Valley of NW Pakistan, Srinagar and Amritsar, a visit with the Dali Lhama in Dharmsala, where the Dali Lhama said that he's seen Palin's previous journeys and wishes that he could join him, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, Lugu Lake in Yunnan Province and Bangladesh, Palin puts together another geographic journey of discovering different cultures and their landscapes. It doesn't seem to be as much about the journey as say, Pole to Pole or Full Circle, as more often than not the group leaves once place and suddenly appears at the next, with only a mention of a track between. If more of the actual travel was included, there would not have been much time for the destinations. More time is given to each place but it lacks the flow of the earlier journeys with the actual travel shortened to a few highlights. What some viewers of "Full Circle" saw as a "burnt out Palin," I saw as the true rigors of the road. To me the road is as much of the journey as where you check-in for a few days and I miss the old approach, a bit.
There are 3 DVDs. The only extras are deleted or expanded scenes and a couple of short interviews, which are well worth it. You get to places like the gardens of Shalimar on the extras that are skipped in the main cut. There are no subtitles, which I would have liked as in some places the ambient noise and English with heavy foreign accents makes comprehension difficult. Even so, back up on the DVD and a volume increase make this easy to overcome.
I'm about ready to bid on the Palin Region 2 DVDs from Europe that are not getting released here. So, whoever is holding the release of previous journeys back, your time is getting short as I run out of patience. At least I have this one."
"Actually, I think I liked the first three of Michael Palin's travelogues ("Around the World in 80 Days", "Pole to Pole" and "Full Circle") better than the three that follow ("Hemingway Adventure", "Sahara" and "Himalaya"). So from that point of view it's not correct to call "Himalaya" the high point of Michael Palin's career.
The big difference is that each of the first three series was documenting a trip made by Michael Palin, and the trip itself was the central element that provided a focal point for the TV series.
In the last three series, and especially in "Himalaya", one gets the feeling that the traveling was secondary, and that the purpose of the whole exercise was primarily to find places and people and events that would make "good TV".
"Himalaya" was, of course, a fantastic trip, and the TV series that covers it is very interesting. Many countries around the Himalayan Mountains were visited, some of them well off the tourist track and some of them with security problems such that the team needed armed guards. Specifically, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Nagaland, Assam, Bhutan and Bangladesh were visited. A total of 3000 miles was traveled during 125 days (4 months), and many beautiful and exciting images, encounters and interviews resulted.
Some of the best parts in the series include Michael Palin making several treks on foot up into the mountains, the highest trek going to Everest Base Camp at 5480 m (18000 ft). Well done, considering that Michael was 60 when he did the trip.
Other high points (ha, ha) include visiting the Dalai Lama, milking a yak, talking to a retired headhunter, buying booze in Pakistan, having an almost-encounter with Maoists in Nepal and sailing off into the sunset in the Bay of Bengal. All situations where the special Michael Palin wit and charm comes through strongly.
The down side is that it all seems a bit too artificial, a bit too motivated by "is this good TV?" The traveling itself is hardly mentioned at all, and in reality the filming and traveling was done in several visits to the area over a period of 11 months. Nor is there a continuous route from start to finish; instead Michael and the team seem to jump back and forth from place to place in order to find the elusive "good TV" locations and events.
The DVD version of the TV series is on three discs containing the six one-hour programs. In addition there is the following extra material:
- an introduction by Michael Palin, 3 minutes. - 125 minutes of additional scenes - mixed quality, some good, some not so interesting. - an interview with Michael Palin, 27 minutes, very good.
Highly recommended. Despite my negative feelings about the producers focusing on finding "good TV" instead of focusing on the trip as an undertaking, this is, of course, really good TV.
Travelling with Michael Palin
abunaiyo | Southern California | 04/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One key factor to any travel show is whether the host is likeable or not. Michael Palin is just the sort of engaging host that makes "Himalaya" such a wonderful and exhilarating program. He's affable, engaging locals in conversation despite language barriers. He's game, trekking up the Himalayas despite the thin air and a nagging cough. He's funny, making the local children laugh during an English lesson.
The scenery, of course, is breath-taking. Most of us will never see it in person. Throughout the program, Michael maintains a down-to-earth and pleasant demeanor, which is important in a travel companion. He came up with a few gems, one of which was singing the Monty Python "Lumberjack Song" to an elderly man in Bhutan. Irreverent and funny moments indeed.
For those interested in Tibet, the segment there is sadly propagandized by the Chinese, who were obviously aware of this BBC production. It seemed so odd how all the locals praised the Chinese government. The extra footage of Michael's conversation with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India was very interesting. I highly recommend this DVD!"
Michael Palin: Best Travel Guide in the World!
R. Epstein | USA | 07/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Michael Palin's travel documentaries are always interesting, and this one is no exception. He vicariously takes us from Hell (the Pakistani-Afghan border where warlords rule, guns and opium are the gross national product, and women are purposefully hidden away) to... Shangri-La. The sovereign nation of Bhutan is certainly as close to Shangri-La as one can hope to find on this planet. What else can you say about a country that proudly (and honestly) claims its gross national product to be... happiness? Assam, India is a close second in that respect, but one's heart breaks when one sees how many other places, like Kashmir, hold so much promise for peace, serenity and harmony with nature, but are stricken with continuous violence. Among other things, in just eight hours Palin shows us what we could be and - if one thinks back to the voyage's beginnings - how far we have yet to go in order to ever arrive there.
In this very worthy 3-disc set (with TONS of deleted scenes!) we get to experience the incredible diversity of cultures, religions, and of course, landscapes. The scenery ranges from looking as lifeless as the face of the moon, to as lush as a storybook, to... astoundingly breathtaking! Speaking of which, most folks will feel pretty relieved that they didn't take this trek themselves when they see Palin grievously choking for breath at `only' 1,300 feet (he'll eventually have to go as high as 1,800). Palin's sweet and good-natured disposition makes the entire voyage enjoyable, and his added bits of humor are always wonderfully spontaneous. My favorite bit -- him singing Monty Python's "lumberjack" song to an aging (and somewhat baffled) Bhutanese poet in an incredibly pastoral setting. If you are a Palin fan and you love to look at this AMAZING world we live in, buy this! "