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  • Gareth Crook

Manakamana (2013)

Updated: Jul 31, 2019

It starts slow, really painfully slow. No dialogue until 25 minutes, when a couple get in and mention they're going to worship at the temple and what fun it'll be. They have a chicken with them. We see the couple again at the end, the only people to appear twice. They still have the chicken, but it's feet are sticking out of a carrier bag. It's an odd documentary, like zen people watching. The idea being you're in the cable car with them, climbing up and down the Nepalese hillsides. It's made to look like one continuous shot, but isn't, although there's still a real honesty and clarity about it. Each time the car reaches a station, it plunges into darkness at the turnaround, there's a wait to see who's next as figures slowly reveal themselves in the shadows. Then with a sudden rush of sunlight as the car emerges, we're greeted with goats! Fantastic!! The goats watch as the hill side passes. What do they make of it is anyone's guess, but a few euphoric sounding bleats suggest they're having fun. At least until they get to the temple that is. The three metalheads taking photos are very funny and the two old ladies struggling with fast melting ice-cream are hilarious!! There's a weird intermission of darkness at the half way mark, with a few minutes of just sound. It's eerie, but fits well. As unusually entertaining as all this is, it's the two guys that get in with their instruments (Sarangi... I googled it) that steal the show. They muse on how things have changed in the world, tune up said instruments and proceed to bang out a song. It could be that much of the silence in the film heightens this musical interlude, but it's still pretty cool. Which is a good summary of the film, it's pretty cool.


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