Cast: Tsehwang Dendup, Lhakpa Dorji, Sonam Kinga, Sonam Lhamo, Deki Yangzom
Director: Khyentse Norbu
Screenplay: Khyentse Norbu
Rated: PG low level language
Running Time: 108 Minutes
The Bitter And The Sweet Of Temporary Things
In the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, nestled deep in the Himalayas, two men seek to escape their mundane lives. Dondup, an educated university graduate, decides that he will be better off picking grapes in the United States than working as a government officer in a remote rural village. Tashi, a restless farm youth studying magic, cannot bear the thought of a life consigned to his village. Through a trick of his brother, he is delivered into a dream world of seduction and intrigue.
The two men embark on parallel, if separate, journeys.
Every now and then, a movie comes along, that when it finishes you feel touched by its beauty, charm and simplicity. 'Travellers & Magicians' is one of those movies.
Dondup (Tsehwang Dendup), an educated university graduate is restless for a return to what he thinks will be a far greater life in America than the one he finds himself in, in his homeland of the kingdom of Bhutan. Dondup has been working as a government officer in a remote village and decides that he just has to leave so packs his bags and heads for the local road that will take him on his journey. He arrives too late for the bus that he wanted take, seeing it disappear into the distance, so he decides to sit and see if he can hitch a ride with a passing vehicle. But this is Bhutan and the traffic is very, very scant.
But Dondup is not deterred and is prepared to sit it out. Soon, a fellow traveller arrives - a Buddhist monk (Sonam Kinga). They sit and pass the time, both waiting for a ride and the monk tries to get to know Dondup, trying to engage him in conversation of which Dondup is an unwilling participant. Along comes another fellow traveller in the form of an elderly apple seller who also joins the pair. Time passes slowly, so the monk decides to tell them a story - a fable about Tashi (Lhakpa Dorji), who is studying magic and ends up in another world due to a trick played on him by his younger brother. This story is interwoven as the travellers spend the night together and the following day, when yet more travellers join them in their wait for some form of transport, a paper-maker and his beautiful young daughter, Sonam.
The scenery throughout 'Travellers & Magicians' is truly beautiful and really is breath taking. It is this primitive countryside that makes the movie so engaging and using local characters makes the story so emotional and poignant. There is no need for complicated images or characters as simplicity of the location really conveys so much without being altered in any way.
'Travellers & Magicians' does have a meaningful lesson using the story within a story premise. Writer and director Khyentse Norbu has created an easy, enjoyable and beautiful journey to take.
Rating : ***½