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The two men embark on parallel, if separate, journeys. Their yearning is a common one--for a better and different life. Dondup, delayed by the timeless pace of his village, is forced to hitchhike through the beautiful wild countryside of Bhutan to reach his goal. He shares the road with a monk, an apple seller, a papermaker and his beautiful young daughter, Sonam. Throughout the journey, the perceptive yet mischievous monk relates the story of Tashi. It is a mystical fable of lust, jealousy and murder, that holds up a mirror to the restless Dondup, and his blossoming attraction to the innocent Sonam. The cataclysmic conclusion of the monk's tale leaves Dondup with a dilemma--is the grass truly greener on the other side? Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Well crafted film fuses noir, comedy, and multi-culti
In this, his second film, Khyentse Norbu shows how skilled a filmmaker he really is. An ordained lama, he studied independent film-making in New York and here it really pays off. While his first film, The Cup, was a well done portrait of life in Bhutan, Travellers and Magicians is that and much more. Taking his cue from, among other works, the great Ju Dou by Zhang Yimou, Norbu gives us a village official who longs for the excitement and money to be had in America.
Sporting shiny white new athletic shoes, the official makes his way to the main road where he tries to catch a bus to Thimbu, first stop on his journey. But he misses the bus and soon meets up with an interesting assortment of fellow travelers--an old apple seller, a monk, and a farmer with his beautiful daughter. While waiting for the bus--or anyone driving who can give any or all of them a ride--they're entertained by the monk who tells a tale of a young apprentice magician who loses his way in a large forest and comes upon an old man and his much younger wife.
Norbu intercuts the ongoing tale with different legs of the travelers' journey on the seemingly endless road. The editing chops on display here are truly impressive, marking this as the work of a director who really knows how to make a film grab the viewer. We see the young magician lying in bed at night, thinking only of the young wife, and dissolve to the official waking up in the morning, having no doubt thought of the farmer's daughter much of the night.
This is much more than great editing; it gives us strong links between how we live our lives and how we imagine our lives should be lived. The tales we tell, the ones we remember, are those that inform how we feel we should or could do what we're not doing now. It's our memory of another story--what we read long ago, or what someone told us long ago--that gives us the unofficial subconscious laws we live by. That's what Norbu tells us in this great film.
A giant leap forward from The Cup, Travellers and Magicians is a first class cinematic work that should be seen by many.
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