|SIKKIM (director/writer: Satyajit Ray; cinematographer: Soumendu Roy; editor: Dulal Dutta; music: Satyajit Ray; cast: Satyajit Ray (Narrator); Runtime: 55; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: The Chogyal of Sikkim Palden Thondup Namgyal; Angel-PAL; 1971-India-in English)|
engrossing and well-made no frills documentary
has Ray narrate in English."
by Dennis Schwartz
educational travel guide documentary was
commissioned by the king of Sikkim at a time in 1971
when the sovereignty of Sikkim was threatened by
both China and India. The film was banned by the
government of India when Sikkim merged with India in
1975. The ban wasn't lifted until September 2010. It
was never released to theaters and was not
seen except by the king's (Chogyal) family.
The film was supposedly lost, except in 2003 a print
kept by the British Film Institute was located.
India's greatest director, Satyajit Ray ("Two
Daughter"/"Agantuk"/"The Chess Players"), was
commissioned to make the film by the Chogyal and his
American wife Hope Cooke as an homage to Sikkim and to
promote its sovereignty--the reason it was
controversial in the eyes of India.
engrossing and well-made no frills documentary has Ray
narrate in English. It tells us the population is
merely 200,000 for this small country that stretches
only for 70 miles and it shows the majestic Himalaya
mountains that engulf it, a few remote mountain
villages, and a few monasteries (Buddhism is the
official religion),. We also get to see the happy
school children and learn about the tribal makeup of
its people, who relocated from many different outlying
countries. After a visit to a busy marketplace on a
Sunday, we witness a costume ritualized Buddhist
ceremony (with dancers, lamas and a police band).
described the film in the following way: "there are
poetic shots in the rain and there's great optimism as
seen in the happy children. The whole thing builds up
into a paean of praise for the place."
REVIEWED ON 3/13/2014 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ