Paths of the Soul

Paths of the Soul

This is a wonderful film made by Zhang Yang, who must be one of the finest Chinese filmmakers working at present. It tells the story of a gruelling pilgrimage made by Tibetan peasants to Lhasa, and eventually on to Mount Kailash.

For most of the film I thought I was watching an extraordinary documentary, but in fact it is only documentary-style, made without a script, and with non-professional actors playing parts they are evidently acquainted with personally.

A group of 11 pilgrims begin a trip to Lhasa, 1200km away, prostrating every few steps of the way. Along the way a baby is born; a tractor is involved in an accident and the final 100km is made with the pilgrims dragging the wagon; and finally one of the characters dies.

The film, which is deliberately slow and contemplative, is shot in some of the most awesome landscapes, and is a remarkable story of faith, courage and determination. Not a film you are ever likely to forget.

 

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