Review – Nine Story Mountain

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Hates movies, but loves films. James enjoys all genres of cinema... as long as it's well put together and brings something new to audiences.

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Whenever I check out a documentary it’s usually about a subject that I’m familiar with and will most likely get depressed from after viewing. Luckily Nine Story Mountain was brought to my attention and was a nice change of pace from films I might normally watch. As the credits rolled I was left in awe after viewing such a stunning and spiritual experience.

Nine-Story Mountain follows three researchers who travel across Tibet to Mount Kailash. One of those researchers is the director of the film, August Thompson, who I had the pleasure of talking to on the Us vs Film Podcast. Check out that interview here. Along their way we get a brief history of some of the beliefs and practices of the people who live there.

Many documentaries feel the need to focus on all the facts and history of their subjects and locations. While it’s great to have all the facts you need, it comes off more as a history lesson than a fun viewing. Nine-Story Mountain goes a different route and puts us in the shoes of the filmmakers, giving the audience the experience as if they’re really there and not at home or in a movie theater. Instead, we are given the opportunity to hear the stories and experiences from the everyday people themselves. When traveling to a new place, it’s much more fun to explore on your own and meet people along the way that have experienced first hand what its like to live in that location and how their life differs from people around the world. We get that full effect in Nine-Story Mountain, which is such a rare treat to see in cinema. It’s along the lines of watching a visual interpretation of a traveler’s journal.

No film is ever perfect, however. Editing a documentary is not easy. Especially with going from images to exterior shots to interviews, transitions are always hard to choose from. There are a little too many dissolves in the editing department, but it doesn’t take away from the overall experience in any way of watching Nine-Story Mountain. With its soothing soundtrack and stunning cinematography, any imperfection is overshadowed by the beauty of the film’s experience.

If Nine-Story Mountain plays at a film festival near you I highly recommend to go view this documentary that has such epic proportions. With a running-time under 70 minutes you’ll leave wanting to see more. This is Augusta Thompson’s debut film and I look forward to watching more of her future travels that she captures on film.

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