Manakamana (U)

Directed by Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez
Picturehouse, Liverpool
12th December - 18th December 2014

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This documentary film is one of the oddest but most mesmerising to be released this year. It is shot entirely inside a cable car, carrying people, including pilgrims and goats, to and from Manakamana, an ancient mountaintop temple, located above a Nepalese jungle.

It comprises 11 mini episodes, with the first probably the most charming. A grandfather and his infant grandchild sat throughout the seven or eight minutes without uttering a sound, while looking lovingly upon the beautiful nature spread out below them, notably the Sal Forest. They were filmed travelling backwards in the cable car, which added to the peculiar aspect of the scene.

Another special vignette featured three long haired guys from a local rock band, with one of them cradling a little kitten and another wearing a T-shirt with an image of Black Sabbath on the front.

One passenger commented upon how it took, in times gone by, nearly three days to walk the distance that the cable car traversed in a matter of several minutes.

The only sequence which did not hold my attention was the one of two women noisily munching away on chocolate-coated ice lollies.

What was surprising was the utterly relaxed demeanour of those propelled hundreds of feet above ground level by cable wire.

There were a number of blacked out periods in the film, which enhanced the overall strangeness of the two hours, as the cable car reached the temple and took on board new passengers.

All those who took part, but not the goats!, knew they were being filmed. Perhaps it might have made the documentary even more fascinating in ways if they had not known a camera was recording them.

Manakamana is part of Harvard's Experimental Sensory Ethnography Lab, which produced the 2012 mysterious fishing vessel documentary Leviathan.

NERVE supports workers struggling for a living wage.

Printer friendly page

Sorry Comments Closed