Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez
12th December - 18th December 2014
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
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.
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