On DVD/Blu-ray – A Pair of Movies Featuring Snow in the Mountains
by HELEN GEIB
We had a particularly beautiful snowfall Friday night, that heavy snow that outlines every branch and twig and makes the neighborhood look like a snow globe. I didn’t even mind shoveling my driveway because it was a chance to be outside soaking in the sight. In honor of my weekend winter wonderland, this week’s DVD/Blu-ray recommendation is two movies with memorable snowy vistas. They also remind me how glad I am to live at a lower altitude and a more southerly latitude.
A Nepalese movie filmed entirely on location in remote, high mountains, Himalaya revolves around a village’s annual salt caravan to the lowlands to trade for grain. Snow-capped mountains in every direction are an ever present reminder of winter, and the dramatic climax is an endurance march through chest high on a yak snow in a blizzard. Beyond the usual audience for foreign cinema, this is a great movie for families and the foreign movie-phobic. The main characters are universal: a crusty old man determined to show everyone he still has what it takes to lead the caravan; his cute as a button grandson; a beautiful widow; and the strong, handsome young chief who courts her. It’s also a must-see for the armchair traveler, especially one who reads National Geographic. The director is a French professional photographer whose work is regularly published in the magazine and the movie, through the cast of local non-professional actors, documents traditional culture and customs along with the stunning landscape.
Himalaya made enough of a splash internationally to be nominated for the Oscar for best foreign-language film and, more significantly for me, to rate a one week theatrical engagement in Indianapolis. On the big screen is how I’ll never forget first seeing it, but it’s still a wonderful movie watched on DVD. The only extra is a half hour making-of.
The Way Back (2010)
The Indian Himalayas are the destination for the gulag escapees in the WWII adventure The Way Back. Snow bookends a trek on which climate is the most formidable obstacle. The grandeur of the mountains notwithstanding, what comes to mind first when I think of this movie is always an early scene set in the Siberian forest shortly after their escape from the camp. Still and snowbound, the landscape has a terrible beauty.
For my full review: The Way Back was the featured DVD/Blu-ray when it was released in 2011. It’s available in both formats. Extras are a short making-of and the trailer.
NEW RELEASES FOR JANUARY 1, 2012