This would be one of my very favorite movies but the story is
too simplistic. That simplicity hardly detracts from the
amazing photographic backgrounds, the enchanging polyphonic
singing, and and the glimpses of traditional Tibetan culture.
In “Himalaya” we see the transition of power from one
village chief to another. It is not easy. It is not violent.
In a way it is as beautiful as the rest of the film.
A conceivable choice for the next chief was the current
second son who had been raised in a monestary. Everybody
knew this choice wouldn't work—except the old chief himself.
There are two professional actors in this film, both Nepalese.
Everybody else you see is a native from the Dopol region of
Nepal. (It is easy to recognize the professionals. They are
the ones in the film's only sex scene.)
The filming was in or near a remote Dolpo village in Nepal—as close
to the real Tibet as we Westerners can get. In fact it is not clear
that access to the Chinese province of Tibet would get us
any closer because the Chinese government is doing its best to
make Tibetans into Chinese.
This almost doesn't qualify as an ethnic film.
Production staff, direction, and screen writers are French.
But the main director/screenwriter, Eric Valli, had lived over a decade in
Nepal before making the film and had made friends with a Dolpo village chief, who
plays himself in the film.
If you can get this film on DVD (perhaps from you local
library) then do that so you can see the extra disc on how the
film was made. You will learm almost as much about Tibetan
culture from this disc as from the film itself.