Friday, February 29, 2008

Travellers and Magicians

I know little about Buddhism and less about the kingdom of Bhutan but after watching Travellers and Magicians, I think I understand the former a little more and the latter seems like a beautiful place to visit. The director of the movie also happens to be an incarnate lama which I imagine impresses the heck out of some people - it also probably accounts for the didactic nature of the movie. We are dealing here with conflicting value-systems: the slow patient life of a small village versus the fast-moving attractions of the wider world: aspirations and desire versus the acceptance of the true nature of the material world (from my limited understanding of Buddhist thought); ephemera versus the eternal. The structure of the movie is like a cascading Russian doll: a dream is part of a story that is part of another story. What we get is Double Indemnity within East of Eden within, oh, I don't know, The Canterbury Tales. It is cast with non-professional actors - resulting in a naturalness but also a certain lack of range in the performances. Yet, hopefully, along with the characters in the movie, we begin to glimpse something of the true nature of things. It is one of those movies where to say that it is funny is to say that we laugh along with the characters rather than at them.

1 comment:

John said...

Visiting Bhutan... not as easy as you might imagine. I looked into it last year. The only way in seems to be as part of a trekking group, and then you have a limited time and must be with a tour guide and never get to interact with the rest of the country. I believe this is their way of keeping Western drugs and culture away from their traditional lifestyle.