TRAVELOGUES

Travel & Cities

Paris London New York

Travelogue Paris, London, New York 

1999
8m/m Black & White
Reel duration: 7’17”

 

This reel, shot in late 1999, follows the same premises indicated in the reel New York (Travel category):
https://patrickmorell.com/works/travel/
Except this one is shot in 8m/m film (Beaulieu camera).
These footage of visual impressions, without any narrative, are meant to be archival footage.

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This  technic of collage (sometimes surrealistic) of grainy images and sometimes personal memories in three cities that I either visited or resided in, during the late 1990s, is directly influenced by the technics of “Cinema Verite”.
In other words, the black & white footage reinforces the idea of recording time “passed” in reality and in film; a concept which still influences what I do today.

San Francisco (US)

San Francisco California US

1996
8m/m Color
Reel duration: 17’ 52”

Following the same model of previous travelogues, this was shot in San Francisco, in 1996 a city where I lived there and worked in early stages of my career.
 The clip is a kind of tribute to the City by the Bay,  gratefully so.

 

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Trek to the Source of the Ganges (Gomukh, India)

Trek in the Himalays
Uttar Pradesh, India
Standard Definition 720p.
2001
Reel duration: 11’ 34”

 

 

The terminus of the Gangotri Glacier is said to resemble a cow’s mouth, so it is called Gomukh (Hindi: gou, cow + mukh, face) which is about 19 km (11.8 mi) from the town of Gangotri.

Gomukh is the source of the Bhagirathi river, an important tributary of the Ganges.
It is situated near the base of Mt Shivling which rises at over 21,000 feet of altitude. It is a traditional Hindu pilgrimage site.

 

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The Gangotri Glacier and Gomukh are only accessible by foot.
Devout Hindus consider bathing in the icy waters near Gangotri town and even by Gomukh to be a holy ritual,
Some Sadhus (Saints) make camp on the way to the glacier, sometimes for months despite the harsh climate.
Mountain Altitude Sickness (or AMS Acute Mountain Sickness) is very common here. I have experienced it filming this reel and thanks to a group of pilgrims, I could keep going the next day under gorgeous skies. Some travelers have not been so lucky.
Although rarely, AMS can be fatal.

The 2013 North Indian flood  destroyed much of the trail and access is now much more difficult due to trail deterioration and a 2 km wide rockfall site.

This footage were shot in June 2001 and are part of the documentary:
“Ganga, Ganga Will You Remember My Name?” A travelogue film (45′) on the Ganges from Rishikesh to its source at Gomukh,.
It was released  in the US in December 2001.
You can see scenes of the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad in 2001 from the documentary at:
https://patrickmorell.com/works/people/hindus/#kumbhmela 

VARANASI The Ghats (India)

Varanasi
Uttar Pradesh, India
Standard Definition 720p.
2001
Reel duration: 13’ 21”


The Ghats in Varanasi are riverfront steps leading to the banks of the River Ganga. The city has 88 ghats. Most of them are used for bathing and performing various religious rituals. Few are used exclusively as cremation sites.
This reel was filmed in late May, just before the monsoon so it was brutally hot.

 

 

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Most of the ghats in Varanasi were built after 1700 AD, when the city came under the Marathas. Many of them such as Dashashwamedha, Manikarnika and Raj Harishchandra are associated with legends or mythologies and their sites have existed since time immemorial. Others such as Ahilyabai Ghat, Ganga Mahal Ghat, Chet Singh Ghat were later additions.

 

Temple of Isis at Philae (Egypt)

Excerpt from “Journeys on the Nile” (2005)
Egypt
2004

Standard definition; 720p 
Reel duration: 3’ 47″

 


Philae
in Greek or Pilak in ancient Egyptian, meaning ‘the end,’ defined the southern most limit of Egypt. It was begun by Ptolemy II and completed by the Roman Emperors.


Isis is a very important figure in the ancient world.
She is associated with funeral rites as the enchantress who resurrected Osiris and gave birth to Horus, the falcon-headed god.

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The temple at Philae was nearly lost under water when the high Aswan dam was built in the 1960s.
Fortunately the temple was rescued by a joint operation between the Egyptian government and UNESCO in an engineering feat to rival the ancients.
The whole island was surrounded with a dam and the inside pumped dry. Then every stone block of the temple complex was labelled and removed later to be assembled, like a giant jigsaw puzzle, on the higher ground of Agilka island.
The whole project took ten years and has saved one of Egypt’s most beautiful temples from certain destruction.
A part of the Temple of Isis was acquired by the Metropolitan Art Museum of New York and is permanently displayed in
the Temple of Dendur.
This reel filmed on the new Temple site is part of the travelogue 
 “Journeys on the Nile” made in collaboration with UNESCO (Cairo).

Nubia (Egypt)

 The Elephantine Island. (Nubia)
Aswan region and dam.
Egypt
2004

Standard definition; 720p 
Reel duration: 6’ 52”

 

Nubia is a region along the Nile river located in what is today northern Sudan and southern Egypt. It was one of the earliest civilizations of ancient Northeastern Africa, with a history that can be traced from at least 2000 B.C onward (through Nubian monuments and artifacts, as well as written records from Egypt and Rome).
It was home to one of the greatest African empires.

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During the early-1970s, many Egyptian Nubians were forcibly resettled to make room for Lake Nasser after the construction of the two dams at Aswan.

Most of the Nubian land was flooded. Only a few Nubian villages can now be found north of Aswan on the west bank of the Nile and on Elephantine Island where this reel was shot in 2004.
Like the precedent reel this was made  thanks to UNESCO (Cairo office) and the Egyptian ministry of Cultures and Antiquities for the travelogue  “Journeys on the Nile”.

 

The Living and the Dead

Cairo
Egypt
2004

Standard definition; 720p 
Reel duration: 10′ 25″

 

The City of the Dead, or Cairo Necropolis, also referred to as the Qarafa ( Arabic:: القرافة,) is a series of vast Islamic era necropolises and cemeteries in Cairo, Egypt. They extend to the north and to the south of the Cairo Citadel, below the Mokattam Hills and outside the historic city walls, covering an area roughly 4 miles long. They are an UNESCO World Heritage Site .

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Throughout their history, the necropolises were home to various types of living inhabitants as well. These included the workers whose professions were tied to the cemeteries (e.g. gravediggers, tomb custodians), the Sufis and  religious scholars studying in the religious complexes built by sultans and other wealthy patrons, and the regular inhabitants of small urban settlements and villages in the area.
One of these inhabitants brought me to the tops of some minarets for these views and for a very limited time.
It was filmed at the end of my stay in Egypt ( 4 months) in November 2004.

Wadi Rum

Jordan
2004

Standard definition: 720p 
Reel duration: 14′ 47″

 
Wadi Rum (Arabic: وادي رم Wādī Ramm), known also as the Valley of the Moon is a valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock in southern Jordan, 60 km (37 mi) to the east of  Aqaba; it is the largest wadi in Jordan.

Wadi in Arabic is a valley, or a ravine being dry except for rainy seasons.

 

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It is very hot in August and there is not much shade except under the  Bedouins black tents made of goat or camel hair.
One of these camp is featured in this reel.

Wadi Rum Protected Area was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.

The best way to travel in Wadi Rum is with the Bedouins either on camels or on jeep. I tried both.
For filming, of course the vehicle was best.

 

Wadi Rum has been inhabited by many human cultures since prehistoric times, with many cultures–including the Nabataeans  –leaving their marks in the form of petroglyphs, inscriptions, and temple as we can see in the “Siq” (the “shaft”) at the entrance of the Khalazi Canyon.

 

In the West, Wadi Rum may be best known for its connection with British officer T.E Lawrence who passed through several times during the Arab revolt of 1917–18.
In this reel is featured one of the rock formations originally known as Jabal al-Mazmar (The Mountain of (the) Plague), which was named “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom,” after Lawrence book penned it in the aftermath of the war.

Lawrence operated throughout 1917 in this extraordinary desert landscape and from here, the strike on Aqaba was launched.
The site provided David Lean, the director, with his most memorable movie location for his epic 1962 film ‘Lawrence of Arabia‘.
Wadi Rum lies an hour by road east of Aqaba and Petra.

For more on Nabataeans please see: https://patrickmorell.com/works/travel/ancient-cities/#petra

 

DEAD SEA (Jordan side)

 

Jordan side.
2004

Standard Definition 720p.
Reel duration: 25’11”

 

The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and Palestine to the west.
|Its surface and shores are 429 meters (1,407 ft.) below sea level, earth’s lowest elevation on land. 
The Dead Sea is threatened by excessive withdrawals of water from the Jordan River in the north and dams and industrial development in the south. 

 

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 As a result the Dead Sea has already lost a third of its surface area. The Dead Sea ‘s depth continues to drop by up to one meter per year. At this rate, experts predict its total extinction in 25 years.Very few inhabitants live around for long periods because it is very hot.
We are at the lowest point on earth ( 
400 meters under sea level).

Many people come to the Dead Sea for its mud baths, health and beauty spas.
There was a Marriot Hotel there when I was there.

 

All images (including the hotel)  were filmed during numerous trips around the Dead Sea  in the summer and fall of 2004
and from the Mount Nebo (where Moise looked at the Land of Israel).

Probably the most experimental and meditative film on this website. And the slowest.

This travelogue was made with the collaboration of the Royal Film Commission of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. 
The music score is by Brian Eno. (“The Pearl”). Music rights Clearances apply.