Himalaya

Rated NR

One of this year's Oscar nominees for best foreign-language film, Himalaya is at its heart a fairly standard yarn about learning respect for age and experience and the wisdom that they bring. Set in pre-Chinese-occupation Tibet (although shot in Nepal), the story revolves around the conflict between the village's chief, Tinle (Thinlen Lhondup), and young upstart Karma (Gurgon Kyap); they butt heads over when to depart on the annual caravan south to trade salt for grain. Tinle blames Karma for the death of his eldest son on a previous caravan and stubbornly refuses to cooperate with him. Karma, frustrated by Tinle's obstinacy, departs early with the bulk of the village's men, yaks and salt. Tinle must then somehow make the arduous and harrowing journey with the ragtag, elderly group that stays loyal to him. Director Eric Valli uses the stunning beauty and strength of the mountains themselves (as captured by cinematographer Jean-Paul Merrisse) as a metaphor for the indomitable will of Tinle. The film is worth seeing for the visual majesty of the setting alone, especially if you're a gearhead mountain-groupie of the sort that keeps Jon Krakauer rolling in dough. But for once, we get the Sherpa's story. In Himalaya, these incredibly hardy folk are well-rendered and interesting characters, not simply pack mules for Everest-climbing honkys. Thank the Buddha for that.

Film Credits

Director: Eric Valli

Cast: Thinlen Lhondup and Gurgon Kyap

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