Oz Asia Festival – 2016 – Paths of the Soul – Yang Zhang – Mercury Cinema – 4K

By Tom Eckert


Yang Zhang’s documentary Paths of the Soul is a deeply meditative and privileged vision of an idiosyncratic Tibetan Buddhist pilgrimage ritual that sees them traveling 2,000km to their holy capital whilst throwing themselves prostrate every few steps.

The cinematography is simultaneously deeply respectful and awe-inspiring. Keeping his distance, Zhang never allows the camera to invade the space of the people he is filming. This allows them to inhabit their own minds as they undergo their pilgrimage.

Not only this but his representations of the stark Tibetan mountain-scapes are breath-taking. Frequently rendering them in high contrast black and white he lends them an impassive indifference to the trials of those who seek to pass them. This is highlighted by the near tragedies of rock falls and land slides.

The ritual that is portrayed is deeply meditative, inviting the audience to introspection and reflection on the extents they would go to in their own lives. One can’t help but be held in wonder by both the sublime landscape and the efforts of Zhang’s earnest subjects.

Kryztoff rating: 4K

Leave a Reply