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Michael Palin - Himalaya

4.5 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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(Oct 09, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Hot on the heels of his adventures in the Sahara, Michael Palin takes on the abode of snow and begins a 2000-mile journey across this mighty and majestic region of Asia. Encountering extremes of wealth and poverty, altitude and freezing cold, he once again brings his unique wit, charm and wisdom to each of 6 episodes. Along the way he encounters, among many others, the Dalai Lama, the Bhutanese Royal Family and the once feared head hunting tribe of the Konyak. While on his travels he passes through Afghanistan, across India to the feared Death Zone near the base of Mount Everest and then onto the Bhutanese capital before arriving in the Bay of Bengal.

Michael Palin has yet to grow tired of tromping around the planet on behalf of the BBC--or so he says in a special, pre-departure introduction to his always gratifying, sometimes thrilling Michael Palin: Himalaya. He makes a point of acknowledging that he is, and feels, considerably older than during the making of his first, exotic travelogue, 1989's Around the World In 80 Days with Michael Palin. (Palin has made three other globe-tripping series between Around the World and Himalaya.) But despite his age (61 at the time of Himalaya's production), Palin remains enthusiastic about experiencing people and cultures new to him. Moreover, despite Himalaya's itinerary through conflict-riddled border nations in the shadow of that fantastic mountain range, Palin confesses to enjoying travels through countries "with a bit of an edge."

So be it. Working for the fifth time with co-director Roger Mills and several other key crew members, Palin launches the series in Pakistan. There he rides the handsome Khyber rail, visits a dentist with an extremely slow drill (shudder), discovers Pakistan's love affair with guns, and takes in the almost mythic spectacle of bull-racing. Episode 2, "A Passage to India," begins at an altitude of 14,000 feet, bypassing K-2 to watch a fascinating and, happily, peaceful manifestation of historic hostilities between Pakistan and India. Specifically, Palin enjoys a day-long contest of ceremonial drills between Indian and Pakistani soldiers, literally set on either side of a white borderline between nations. The host also visits a fantastic temple for India's 20 million Sikhs, and finds vestiges everywhere of Britain's former colonial rule.

Later episodes find Palin in war-torn Kashmir (India and Pakistan vie for control), where he discovers a houseboat where Ravi Shankar taught sitar to George Harrison. Palin also gains an audience with the Dalai Lama, who recognizes the Monty Python star and laughs through most of the interview. Other series highlights include unnerving signs of recent violence in Nepal (where insurgent Maoists battle the king's army, the latter reinforced by British officers); settling into base camp at Mt. Everest; travels through Tibet (where China's forced modernization awkwardly co-exists with Tibetan antiquities); taking in devoutly Buddhist and environmentally progressive Bhutan; finally ending in a compelling excursion through Bangladesh. Special features include deleted scenes, very much worth the time to extend Palin's travels. --Tom Keogh

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Palin
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Miniseries
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 9, 2007
  • Run Time: 352 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009GX1EC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,175 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Michael Palin - Himalaya" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Palin seems to have been infected by the mountain air - he absolutely bounds with giddy dleight through this series!

Recently, Palin's most recent travel documentaries have been watched and received with great anticipation, but there is an air of 'tiredness' hanging over them - emphasised more by the fact Palin's first efforts, "Around the world in 80 days" and "Pole to Pole" are being regularly shown now on cable channels, reminding us of his infectious enthusiasm, delight in mixing with the local people and response to seeing new things. By the time he completed "Full Circle," it was clear the travel was beginning to burn him out - and "Full Circle" was a monumental volume of work!

But with Himalaya, I am pleased to say he is back in fine form, he seems to absolutely delight in meeting and chatting with the people of the Himalaya's. He joins in their celebrations, their lives. The editing is superb - the majestic and breathtaking beauty of the landscape a constant reminder to pack one's bags and go! Its also great to see him and his guide hooked up with wireless microphones so now there are shots of them strolling through market places and you get to see more of the people going about their daily business around them as opposed to earlier days when shots of Palin with his guide would have had to been close ups to accomodate the (hidden) microphone overhead. It all adds up to one slick and very entertaining program!

The music is also magical - why isn't it out on CD?!

This maybe the last travel documentary by Palin, but he went out on a magnificent high point - literally I guess!
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Beginning at the Khyber Pass, and taking in the Chitra Valley of NW Pakistan, Srinagar and Amritsar, a visit with the Dali Lhama in Dharmsala, where the Dali Lhama said that he's seen Palin's previous journeys and wishes that he could join him, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, Lugu Lake in Yunnan Province and Bangladesh, Palin puts together another geographic journey of discovering different cultures and their landscapes. It doesn't seem to be as much about the journey as say, Pole to Pole or Full Circle, as more often than not the group leaves once place and suddenly appears at the next, with only a mention of a track between. If more of the actual travel was included, there would not have been much time for the destinations. More time is given to each place but it lacks the flow of the earlier journeys with the actual travel shortened to a few highlights. What some viewers of "Full Circle" saw as a "burnt out Palin," I saw as the true rigors of the road. To me the road is as much of the journey as where you check-in for a few days and I miss the old approach, a bit.

There are 3 DVDs. The only extras are deleted or expanded scenes and a couple of short interviews, which are well worth it. You get to places like the gardens of Shalimar on the extras that are skipped in the main cut. There are no subtitles, which I would have liked as in some places the ambient noise and English with heavy foreign accents makes comprehension difficult. Even so, back up on the DVD and a volume increase make this easy to overcome.

I'm about ready to bid on the Palin Region 2 DVDs from Europe that are not getting released here. So, whoever is holding the release of previous journeys back, your time is getting short as I run out of patience. At least I have this one.
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Format: DVD
One key factor to any travel show is whether the host is likeable or not. Michael Palin is just the sort of engaging host that makes "Himalaya" such a wonderful and exhilarating program. He's affable, engaging locals in conversation despite language barriers. He's game, trekking up the Himalayas despite the thin air and a nagging cough. He's funny, making the local children laugh during an English lesson.

The scenery, of course, is breath-taking. Most of us will never see it in person. Throughout the program, Michael maintains a down-to-earth and pleasant demeanor, which is important in a travel companion. He came up with a few gems, one of which was singing the Monty Python "Lumberjack Song" to an elderly man in Bhutan. Irreverent and funny moments indeed.

For those interested in Tibet, the segment there is sadly propagandized by the Chinese, who were obviously aware of this BBC production. It seemed so odd how all the locals praised the Chinese government. The extra footage of Michael's conversation with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India was very interesting. I highly recommend this DVD!
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Format: DVD
Michael Palin's travel documentaries are always interesting, and this one is no exception. He vicariously takes us from Hell (the Pakistani-Afghan border where warlords rule, guns and opium are the gross national product, and women are purposefully hidden away) to... Shangri-La. The sovereign nation of Bhutan is certainly as close to Shangri-La as one can hope to find on this planet. What else can you say about a country that proudly (and honestly) claims its gross national product to be... happiness? Assam, India is a close second in that respect, but one's heart breaks when one sees how many other places, like Kashmir, hold so much promise for peace, serenity and harmony with nature, but are stricken with continuous violence. Among other things, in just eight hours Palin shows us what we could be and - if one thinks back to the voyage's beginnings - how far we have yet to go in order to ever arrive there.

In this very worthy 3-disc set (with TONS of deleted scenes!) we get to experience the incredible diversity of cultures, religions, and of course, landscapes. The scenery ranges from looking as lifeless as the face of the moon, to as lush as a storybook, to... astoundingly breathtaking! Speaking of which, most folks will feel pretty relieved that they didn't take this trek themselves when they see Palin grievously choking for breath at `only' 1,300 feet (he'll eventually have to go as high as 1,800). Palin's sweet and good-natured disposition makes the entire voyage enjoyable, and his added bits of humor are always wonderfully spontaneous. My favorite bit -- him singing Monty Python's "lumberjack" song to an aging (and somewhat baffled) Bhutanese poet in an incredibly pastoral setting. If you are a Palin fan and you love to look at this AMAZING world we live in, buy this!
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