January 7, 2015 -- This experimental film has a pretty simple premise. You put a camera and a microphone in a cable car and record what happens in it for two hours as the car goes up and down the hills to and from the Manakamana temple in Nepal, carrying pilgrims, and some tourists, and some goats, to and from the temple.
I found out pretty quick that this film is about the people and their stories, not about the scenery. The Manakamana Temple, which is not shown in the film, is in central Nepal, not far from Kathmandu. It is believed that pilgrims who visit this Hindu shrine will have their wishes granted by the goddess at Manakamana.
Animal sacrifices, including goats, are made at the shrine. Apparently the goats in the film, riding the mountain, are not long for this world. It appears this film was shot prior to the recent ban on bird sacrifices. The temple is reportedly deteriorating and needs to be rebuilt or renovated. The cable car system, imported from Austria, reduces the arduous climb by foot to the temple from three hours to 10 minutes, according to Wikipedia.
There appears to be at least one English-speaking tourist going to the shrine, with a camera with retro black and white film, no less, but most are apparently pilgrims and most are elderly. One woman indicated this was the pilgrimage of a lifetime for her. “I'd been wanting to come for a long time. Now that wish is fulfilled,” she tells her husband.
One elderly woman, in a group of three, is heard praying to Manakamana, but most don't speak of her. One of the three elderly women says to the other two, “After all we've been through ... When I think of the old days, these times seem better.” She also tells a story related to the Kalika Temple, also in central Nepal. The story she tells is about a man, Gosai, who was promised to marry Kalika, but she runs away from him and hides in a temple. Gosai falls down while chasing her and turns into a log.
Two musicians on their way back from the temple end up playing their stringed instruments, called sarangis (like violins). It sounds quite pleasing. Two other women on their way back down eat chocolate-coated ice cream bars which melt in the heat, making quite a mess. They laugh about this. “We're like children still learning how to eat,” the younger woman says to the older one playfully, “It's fine for you to eat like a child, but I'm a grown woman.”
Three young men, apparently musicians, along with a kitten, travel to the temple with cameras, taking pictures of everything, the scenery, each other, the cat. One segment has goats, tied up in an open-air pen, on their way up the hill. They don't seem very happy about this trip.
This is an interesting experiment as a movie, but I don't think it is a terribly successful one. It takes a lot of patience to sit through the dull bits, where nothing much happens, to get to the more interesting parts, which include conversations, music and other happenings on these journeys. All this would be quite a different experience for Hindus, I imagine. This film rates a C.
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