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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
I saw this well over a month ago, and loved it so dearly that I find it hard to review. I've already recommended this to a ton of friends in person, and two have already reported back that they enjoyed it. If you are reading my reviews, and resonating with the films that I've rated highly, I politely urge you to seek out this film.
Indeed, it makes me want to seek out Bhutan. I'm trying to figure out how to get my family there. Travelling there is trickier than one might imagine, as I understand it only so many slots are available, but you pay a one-price-for-your-whole-visit. Amazing.
And this is an amazing film, and easier to experience than Bhutan itself. The director is a lama incarnate, but he's studied at the Pratt Institute. The film is gorgeous, and evidently portends of Norbu's desire to launch a Bhutanese film industry. The scenery is a major star, as we have a road film with not too much traveling. Sweeping vistas keep the people in perspective, and their problems as well. This road movie has plenty of sitting, and story-telling, and in the latter another more ancient road "movie" is unfurled. The cinematography in the latter swirls.
Just see the film...
Also, evidently the actors and actresses here are all amateurs, but so well-cast and so well-coaxed. The forest hermit's wife has a beauty in her way that exceeds the beauty of her form. The winking wisdom of the story-telling monk I suspect mirrors Norbu's own role.
As a "religious" film, "Travelers and Magicians" made a believer out of this agnostic. It doesn't look away or impose illusions when viewing people, their desires and mistakes are embraced. This is a warm film, without ever being smothering.
Imbued with humor and humility, artful in scope and cinescope, this film gets you to contemplate your mores, rather than have someone else's dogmatically driven into you.
You are the journey you must take, make sure to visit Bhutan on your way. Even if only on this screen of dreams.
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