BEYOND THE CLOUDS, playing at theatres near you is the story set in Nubri valley that lies to the North of Mt. Manaslu, one of the highest mountains in the world. After the earthquake of 2015, Nubri valley with around 12,000 people is cut from the rest of the world by landslides. This docudrama tells the story of Raj, Shiva, Sukh Bahadur and ChhewangDorje, brought together by fate. They unintentionally end up helping the valley residents make it through the near approaching winter, while making their own ends meet.
Director Eric Valli, widely known for HONEY HUNTERS and CARAVAN is the best friend and admirer of Nepal. No one has ever dished out Nepal’s beauty through cinema to the rest of the world better than him. He has proven that through BEYOND THE CLOUDS once again. The cinema crew follows the porters and mule herders carrying goods in the Manaslu circuit, even crosses the infamous Larkya pass on multiple occasions and showcases the hardship of lives around the Manaslu region. A huge round of applause goes to Valli for putting a team together and literally walking along with the characters on location.
The movie is successful in capturing stunning visuals of Manaslu circuit. Characters show real emotions when they are being interviewed. The movie depicts lives full of hardship in one of the most rigorous terrains in the world. Cinematographer Bishnu Kalpit has done a very commendable job in capturing the beauty of the Himalayas and its rugged landscapes. Background score is another strong aspect of the movie. It helps give more sense of reality on multiple occasions as well as being enjoyable to listen to.
However, the film gets occasionally lost in itself and turns into a slice of life in the Himalayas that started as a post-earthquake hardship docudrama. I am sure Eric meant it to be the latter as he ends the film in that note. However, a huge chunk of the movie in the middle wanders off towards showcasing Chhewang Dorje’s life and his philosophical dilemma, which is sure to distract the audience from the theme of earthquake and recovery. Characters seem really animated on scores of occasions and just ham through the entire scenes. Eric was successful in extracting much better performances from real life characters in CARAVAN. A large part of the narration sounds too loud to the viewers, perhaps subtitles could do much better a job.
BEYOND THE CLOUDS ends on a note that life in the Manaslu region has worsened because of the earthquake. People do not have resources available to reconstruct their houses within the country so they are thinking of going abroad. However, because of the earthquake people have begun to realize the importance of unity. The now come to help for each other and have started sharing ideas on recovery process. If viewers can take one of the characters’ decision on not to go abroad at the end as a mere reenactment, the movie can also excuse itself from being preachy.
Trekkers, adventurers and mountain lovers will enjoy the movie for its sheer visual excellence.
Director : Eric Valli
Camera : Bishnu Prasad Ghimire