Monday, November 10, 2014

Manakamana (2013)

Directors: Stephanie Spray, Pacho Valez

A documentary capturing different groups of pilgrims who travel to Nepal's Manakamana temple in cable cars. Static camera in the cable car films the visitors during the course of their journey which takes about ten minutes each. Some of the characters are also filmed during their return journey and many of them are seen to be taking animals with them to be sacrificed in the temple.

I don't know whether the characters are aware that they are getting filmed but I guess they are not. Life doesn't afford us moments where we can simply observe aq random someone at close quarters without the fact that we are staring at us altering their behavior. It is like Heisenberg's uncertainty principle-the simple fact that we are observing will alter the subject's behavior. Then there is the fact that it is not polite to simply stare at someone. The film delivers by giving us the opportunity to do so with many of the characters simply sitting in the cable car without too much talking. There is no external music and except for two girls who speak in English, language spoken by them is Nepalese I guess which I don't understand. The print that I had came without subtitles and I thought it was meant to be watched without understanding what they were speaking. When they mentioned the names of people who helped with subtitles during the end credits I just went FFS! Still I can claim that it is an experimental method of watching and if I watch it again, but with subtitles, it could be turn out to be an entirely different film.

Whether the film rewards you will depend completely on the viewer. I saw the first forty five minutes without finding it all that impressive and took a nap. Then I saw the rest of it after the said nap and it was a wholly different level of experience. One journey featured an exclusively animal (goats) travelers who were set to be sold to pilgrims to be used as sacrifices to the God (Must be an asshole of a God). Then there were two very old ladies struggling to eat melting Chocobars. Watching someone eat a Chocobar (any stick ice-cream for that matter) can be hideous and am not talking just about the fellatio connotations. 

Overall it is a very interesting experimental documentary. There have been many videos circulating featuring film clips without their music (Star Wars one for example), You could watch the film without subtitles like me or use it to understand what they are talking about. Anyway it is a great watch.

Rating: 3.5/5