Sunday, 2 January 2011

"Joanna Lumley's Nile" ~ a documentary in four hour-long parts

"...This is just the beginning of one of the most remarkable journeys I have ever made!" so Joanna describes the beginning of her epic journey, which took place over sixty days, included five countries, and covered four thousand miles.

I thoroughly enjoyed the series.  Joanna maintained her friendly interest in what went on around her with poise and feminine dignity in a whole range of situations which must have been for her both unprecedented and potentially alarming: quite often the only other people around her were local men; she tasted food and brews of the most unlikely looking sort and pronounced each delicious, and she looked into the eyes of the people she met with interest and affection with enviable confidence and without seeming to intrude.  All this I enjoyed and admired.  I also liked that she is an older woman and not shy about her mature years.

While the series is very much about her and her experiences in these remote places, there is also spectacular footage of the many landscapes she passed through.  I could see why she fell in love with Ethiopia and was very sad to leave it.  

Through her we meet the people she met and mingled with.  How different their lives are from ours and from one setting and group to another.  We see her participating in whatever the locals were doing when she arrived, so we see a little of how they live, their relationships with each other, with their land and with their part of the Nile.  She took time to attend a wedding, participate in a weekly hill climbing ritual, and spent time with a group of young Ethiopian women who are that nations aspiring athletes. More astonishing than all these we see her sitting over a smoke pit in a married women's beauty treatment clad in no more than a traditional black sack and loving it...  These are a few of the many unusual social situations which she navigated with politeness and charm.  Finally she slipped and scrambled up the last jungle-clad slopes to the trickling source of mighty Nile, helped along by the indefatigable and relentlessly cheerful New Zealand explorer Cam McLeay

I found her commentary clear and interesting.  My only complaint is that I would have liked the series to have been longer.

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