Travellers & Magicians (2003) Bhutan
Travellers & Magicians Image Cover
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Director:Khyentse Norbu
Studio:Zeitgeist Films
Producer:Raymond Steiner
Writer:Khyentse Norbu
Rating:4.0 (21 votes)
Date Added:2010-02-22
Picture Format:Widescreen
Aspect Ratio:1.85:1
Khyentse Norbu  ...  (Director)
Khyentse Norbu  ...  (Writer)
Tsewang Dandup  ...  
Sonam Lhamo  ...  
Lhakpa Dorji  ...  
Deki Yangzom  ...  
Sonam Kinga  ...  
Alan Kozlowski  ...  Cinematographer
Andrew McCormick  ...  Editor
John Scott  ...  Editor
Tags: Buddhism Drama Asia

Summary: It would be churlish, to say the least, to find fault with a movie written and directed by a revered Buddhist lama who's recognized as the reincarnation of a great Tibetan master. Fortunately, Kyentse Norbu's "Travellers and Magicians" is a lovely film that's easy to like. Norbu, who is actually from Bhutan, made a splash with his first effort, 1999's "The Cup". "Travellers and Magicians" has a generally similar theme (the sometimes humorous, sometimes discomfiting collision of traditional and modern values and cultures), but a rather different story. This one concerns Dondup (Tsewang Dandup), a young government official who feels trapped in his Bhutanese village and yearns to answer the siren call of America, a place that represents Shangri-La for people who already "live" in Shangri-La (author James Hilton was said to have used Bhutan as a model for that utopian land in his novel "Lost Horizon"). After missing his bus to Thimphu, the nearest bigger town, Dondup falls in with a group of other travelers, including a lovely young woman and very garrulous monk. As they walk and hitchhike through the breathtaking Himalayan landscape, the monk spins a haunting tale that, though laced with adultery and murder, still has obvious parallels to Dondup's. The pace of the film is leisurely, clearly a reflection of Bhutanese life. The story is simple, the message--an "is the grass really greener?" fable--not especially subtle, the ending predictable. What's more, the actors, perhaps appropriately, are non-professionals. But those things somehow add to the pleasure of the film instead of detracting from it, and the direction, editing, and cinematography (especially the almost sepia-toned look of the monk's story sequences) are first-rate by any standards. "Travellers and Magicians", with extras that include a "making of" featurette and behind-the-scenes location footage, is a keeper. "--Sam Graham"