PATHS OF THE SOUL, drama, not rated, in Ti­betan with sub­ti­tles, Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts,

Pasatiempo - - MOVING IMAGES - Paths of the Soul Home) (Shower, Get­ting

has many of the same el­e­ments as an An­drei Tarkovsky film: rav­ish­ing land­scapes, life­like rhythms, mul­ti­ple char­ac­ters, and spir­i­tual clar­ity. A group of peo­ple from the vil­lage of Nyima decides to un­der­take the Bud­dhist “bow­ing pil­grim­age” to the holy Ti­betan cap­i­tal, Lhasa. The rig­or­ous pil­grim­age of a thou­sand miles re­quires that the trav­el­ers pros­trate their bod­ies on the ground af­ter ev­ery few steps. The pil­grims wear leather aprons and wooden clap­ping blocks to pro­tect their bod­ies and hands from the ground, but what will ac­tu­ally get them through the ar­du­ous jour­ney is their jaw-drop­ping faith. Made doc­u­men­tary-style, with­out a script, this nar­ra­tive-doc hybrid fol­lows ac­tual pil­grims over the course of a year, dur­ing which time both the crew mem­bers and the non-ac­tors they filmed lived on the road.

Along the way we wit­ness a birth, a death, and even the be­gin­nings of a courtship. When a preg­nant pil­grim goes into la­bor in the mid­dle of the night, we fear she will have to give birth to her baby on the road. In­stead, the pil­grims’ mini farm trac­tor, which pulls a wagon of sup­plies, trans­ports her to the near­est clinic. Here, we are given as clear-eyed an ac­count of child­birth, with its in­tense pains and quiet joys, as I have seen on film.

On an­other day, an ac­ci­dent causes the farm trac­tor to veer off the road and break down. In­cred­i­bly, this ma­jor set­back does not de­ter the pil­grims. They aban­don the en­gine and de­cide to man­u­ally push the wagon, which now con­tains their sup­plies and the baby, the rest of the way. What is re­mark­able from a Western per­spec­tive is that the pil­grims en­dure ex­treme hard­ship to cleanse their souls, yes, but they have, in large part, un­der­taken this pil­grim­age for the wel­fare of all liv­ing be­ings. It is no­table that a Chi­nese film­maker, Yang Zhang

di­rected this sen­si­tive movie about the spir­i­tual life of Ti­betans. Ac­cord­ing to Zhang, the film “tries to look for the en­ergy given by be­liefs.” Cross-cul­tural pol­li­na­tion be­tween the Chi­nese and the Ti­betans is still rare, and this film is a light­house that shows how il­lu­mi­nat­ing such col­lab­o­ra­tion can be, not only for those in the re­gion, but also for the rest of us. — Priyanka Ku­mar

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