This 2004 BBC television series records comedian and travel presenter Michael Palin's six-month trip across the Himalaya mountain range, covering an amazingly diverse range of cultures and ...
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This 2004 BBC television series records comedian and travel presenter Michael Palin's six-month trip across the Himalaya mountain range, covering an amazingly diverse range of cultures and environments in various countries. It includes 1° North by Northwest - Pakistan's tribal province, featuring Khyber Pass, Peshawar, Gilgit, Chitral and K2; 2° A Passage to India - Lahore (still in Muslim Pakistan), and in its mainly Hindu rival India: Amritsar, Shimla, Dharamsala (meeting with the Dalai Lama) and Srinagar; 3°Annapurna to Everest - Nepal (the capital Kathmandu, meeting with King Gyanendra, and Annapurna Mountain; includes a scare involving the Maoist rebels in the Gurkha recruiting area) and Tibet (administered as a Chinese province: Pokhara and the Everest base camp on the northern side). 4° The Roof of the World - Tibet's capital Lhasa and in China's Qinghai province Yushu. 5° Leaping Tiger, Naked Nagas - from China's Yunnan province to India's Nagaland state - features Kunming, ... Written by
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 (6 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
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.
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