Velvet Queen:Alliance Française French Film Festival 2022
At first look, the idea of a nature documentary doesn’t sound appealing, unless you are a fan of the genre. But this is a beautiful exploration of nature and animals in the wild, and how humans have polluted this earth.
The wild in this case is the Tibetan Himalayas. The scenery is at times breathtaking.
The bonus is hauntingly beautiful music by Warren Ellis and Nick Cave.
Velvet Queen: the snow leopard, the yak, and llamas
The Velvet Queen follows two men and their journey to photograph the elusive snow leopard. Of course, they also document other fascinating animals high in the Tibetan plateau – owls, antelopes, bears, and foxes.
The animal perhaps most associated with Tibet is the yak, and we see some amazing photos and footage of an impressively huge black yak with bits of swaying fringes – what looks like rasta-like matted fur.
Conversations between the two men veer between the practical considerations of camping in the wild, and a more spiritual philosophical bent covering the concept of patience as a spiritual activity, how Tibetan lamas have used surrounding caves for retreats, how amazing these animals are, and the relationship here of animal and human – who is observing who.
But it’s not just talking – there is magnificent footage to show us the sacredness of animals. It is fascinating to see these animals in a country that has only in recent living memory opened up to the West and high up in the mountains is relatively untouched by people, despite Chinese occupation.
Oh, the end! don’t miss the best
But the end of the film is the best part. If you get a little bored – the documentary could do with a little cutting – stay with it just to see footage of the snow leopard.
The initial sighting of the snow leopard and subsequent interactions are so moving. We’ve been primed for this moment; all the conversations and footage of the various animals’ pristine environment have led us to appreciate how extraordinary these moments are with the snow leopard. It really is a beautiful film.
Have you seen Velvet Queen yet? Please share your thoughts with us below.