Travelers and Magicians (2005) - Rotten Tomatoes

Travelers and Magicians (2005)



Critic Consensus: Interwined tales of spiritual discovery are set against a gorgeous, evocative landscape in this pleasant, engaging import.

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Movie Info

Written and directed by Khyentse Norbu, Chang Hup The Gi Tril Nung (Travellers and Magicians) chronicles two parallel stories. The first belongs to Dondup (Tshewang Dendup), a bored mountain villager determined to move to the United States, and Tashi (Lhakpa Dorji), another restless soul whose journey led him to an affair and eventual conspiracy to murder. Tashi's story was related to Dondup by one of the fellow travelers trekking through the mountains on their way to an airplane headed for America. The traveler suggests that Tashi's story may contain an important message for Dondup -- namely, to consider being satisfied with what life has dealt him before setting off to parts unknown.
Art House & International , Documentary , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
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Sonam Kinga
as The Monk
Sonam Lhamo
as Sonam
Dasho Adab Sangye
as Sonam's Father
Jigme Drukpa
as Phunsok
Ap Dochu
as Apple Seller
Dorji Budha
as Villager of Chendebaji
Sanga Budha
as Villager of Chendebaji
Sumcho Budha
as Kinzang Wangchuk
Nim Buthri
as Villager of Chendebaji
Aum Chenzom
as Girl in Field
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Travelers and Magicians

All Critics (59) | Top Critics (20)

Pretty enough, but one kind of hopes for a little magic in a movie with "magicians" in its title.

April 29, 2005
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

It's a leisurely yet resonant film that reinforces the power of cinematic storytelling.

Full Review… | April 7, 2005
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

Refreshingly quiet and thoughtful.

March 11, 2005
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

Gloriously photographed, captivatingly acted and percolating with surprises.

Full Review… | March 10, 2005
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Dondup is the make-or-break role here, and he nails it.

March 4, 2005
Seattle Times
Top Critic

It's transporting, it's magical.

March 3, 2005
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Travelers and Magicians


"Travellers and Magicians" is a very charming import film. It's story may be mashed around a bit, but the ultimate message is something that can resonate with people of any race, religion or age. Dondup (Tshewang Dendup) is a newly appointed religious official in a remote village in Bhutan. Growing weary of, "nothing to do," as he proclaims, Dondup receives a letter from a friend informing him that he has arranged for a ticket to America. Dondup leaps on the idea and acts quickly to get out of his requirements and village. While walking to the bus, Dondup gets held up by one of the villagers and is delayed. Getting aggravated, he starts to sprint, but the bus leaves without him. Now wondering what the hell to do, Dondup sits by the side of the road and waits for cars to come by. A man carrying apples (Ap Dochu) sits next to Dondup and asks how the cars are. Since Dondup doesn't want a damn thing to do with people, he acts very cold and walks away. While sitting about a mile up the road, a monk (Sonam Kinga) walks up to Dondup and proceeds to sit next to him. Only wanting to simply pass the time while waiting for a car, the monk tries his best to speak with Dondup. Dondup makes some rude remarks and the monk understands that, being a man of importance, the monk would be given first rides. So the monk then walks down the path to the appleman and leaves Dondup. As night falls, Dondup begins to grow tired of doing nothing all day. The appleman and the monk start a fire to cook some food and invite Dondup down, even after his rude reception. Dondup swallows his pride and joins them. While eating, the monk asks Dondup where he is going, which Dondup responds with some abstract words. This leads the monk to re-tell a Buddhist teaching. The story follows Tashi (Lhakpa Dorji) and Karma (Namgay Dorjee), two brothers in a secluded village in Bhutan (much like Dondup's) who are very opposite of each other. Tashi dreams of far away places and women while Karma is highly intelligent and interested in magic. One day during their lunch, Karma mixes together a potion that sends Tashi on a fantasy trip. This trip takes Tashi to an even more remote village where he meets an old man and his wife, Deki (Deki Yangzom). This story leads to love, betrayal and some other interesting twists. The whole movie is a big metaphor or appreciation of life. While it's definitely vague in that regard, the film doesn't try to shove anything down your throat. It presents you with ideas, philosophies and people and then lets you piece together everything. It's a very non-linear approach to a storyline and it works well, though the beginning is a bit slow and is purely exposition. It's wonderful when you think about it. Is leaving the best thing for a person, or is embracing what they're given? You're left curious as to what Dondup will do with all of this. The acting is solid, if a bit sub-dued. Dendup gives a very convincing performance as Dondup. He seems distant and distracted until a certain character comes into the story later. Kinga as the monk is annoying in a certain respect, but mainly because his character is just very interested in everything around him. He's realistic and sincere, both qualities that a monk should have. Supporting characters include the Appleman and a few other travelers that Dondup encounters. They're all secondary, even if one character strikes Dondup's heart strings. They aren't given a lot of dialog, though, so it's hard to come to any conclusion about them. The people in the monk's story are the bulk of this tale and they certainly nail their parts. Dorji is very distant to everyone at first, but then becomes a bit of a menacing force. His actions overtake him and his facial expressions really drive home his inner-terror. Yangzom is attractive and deadly and she gives a quaint level of seriousness to her character. It's intriguing to no end. On a more technical level, the movie has fine direction and a good, if minimalist, soundtrack. Nothing holds the film back in any regard and when the music does pop up, it's very psychedelic. What is fantastic is the cinematography, though. Bhutan is an extremely beautiful country and it's a wonder why more movies haven't been shot there. When everything is said and done, seeing the characters part is incredibly hard. You may not know much about them, but you want to see their tales conclude and have closure. The monk sums up the whole movie well though. "A blossom is only beautiful because it is temporary." Amen to that.

Numna Stingdoo
Numna Stingdoo

This is one of the best movies which shows that Holywood has lost the plot and the art of making good movies! The Cup was the first great hit of this director but this one is much better... a story of live, a real live in Bhutan and all the challenges that live brings! Perfect for watching with a family!

Panta Oz
Panta Oz

Super Reviewer

a very interesting film, especially for those into foreign flicks. a very well-put-together movie that really puts Bhutanese cinema on the map

Brian Schnell
Brian Schnell

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