Jump to content

Movies About Buddhism


Recommended Posts

I finally got to see Samsara. Great movie about a Ladhaki monk who feels he should experience life before renouncing it forever. This is a serious movie about a serious subject (i.e. lust is what initially motivates the monk), not a heartwarming story like The Cup.

The only version available now is a 2-disk Hong Kong set, available at www.yesasia.com. It looks to me like it was encoded in two 70-minute sections for VCD and then copied as-is to DVD to save money. So, unfortunately, the stunning photography is sometimes not as good as it should be due to a rather "over-sharpened" look. Most of the time you won't notice, though. All in all, well acted and directed, with a strong ending. It stars multilingual Canadian actress, Christy Chung.

Bizarrely, there is/was a Thai version of this called "Sam Sara," presumably to make a connection with Jan Dara, which also starred Chung. I would think some of the "inappropriate" bits would have been cut from the Thai version, though.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 178
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Little Buddha I have some personal interest in this one. One of my first teachers was a consultant for the Tibetan Buddhist authenticity. His wisdom was completely jettisoned in favour of pandering t

You can watch here on

Documentary about Bikkhuni in Thailand.

Posted Images

The 4-hour 1979 documentary on Tibetan Buddhism - Tibet - a Buddhist Trilogy has been released in a 134-minute version on DVD, available from Amazon UK. There are some pretty good reviews and some not so good.

Sounds like the first part (with narration) about the Dalai Lama is pretty good, but the other two parts are Buddhist ceremonies with subtitles but no narration.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Travellers and Magicians - this one by the director of The Cup is a keeper. Great cast, great story and great photography. A young graduate wants to leave village life in Bhutan and work in his dreamland, America. The journey doesn't go well right from the start. On the way he meets a monk who tells him a tale about a dreamland. The tale is pretty spooky, and it contrasts well with the parallel story of the young graduate.

This lama-director-writer is really talented. I hope he makes another movie. The cast are all non-actors but seem to be naturals. It's almost as if the director told them the plot and then said, "Just be yourselves." The two female stars are both beautiful, but in different ways - one innocent, one experienced.

T&M is a more Buddhist movie than The Cup, mainly because the monk acts as a narrator and commentator on the situation of the young man. I enjoyed this a lot more than Samsara and the DVD transfer was better. 490 baht for the R3 version from cdwow.com.

Edited by camerata
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

A weekend to change your life

By TONY EVANS, Idaho Mountain Express, Sept 6, 2006

Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival founders ponder event

Sun Valley, Idaho (USA) -- Mary Gervase and Claudio Ruben go back a long way."Perhaps many lifetimes," Ruben said with a chuckle during a short break from the hectic job of organizing the second annual Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival. Having viewed 140 films in preparation for this year's festival, films that explore a broad selection of the world's spiritual traditions, perhaps anything seems possible.

Gervase is a teacher, counselor and administrator, serving as the assistant superintendent of Blaine County Schools. She met Claudio Ruben in 1993 in Santa Fe, where Ruben was working as a ski instructor. Originally from Milan, Italy, Ruben continues to live and work in Santa Fe, coordinating production for TV commercials and serving as assistant director for the Thubten Norbu Ling Buddhist Center. With shared interests centering around film making and spirituality (Gervase is a student of Aikido) these two friends networked for years in the hope of putting together a multi-faceted film festival, one that would celebrate the world's spiritual traditions and cherish the human spirit. In 2005 the perfect opportunity presented itself in the Wood River Valley.

"Mary called me in Santa Fe and said, 'The Dalai Lama is coming to town. I think this might be the right time and place,'" Ruben reca;;ed. "I already had a business plan and some films in mind."

Gervase wrote a letter to Kiril Sokoloff, the sponsor of the Dalai Lama's visit, suggesting that he involve Blaine County school children in the visit, and "would he mind if we were to screen some films while His Holiness was in town?"

Sokoloff agreed, and The Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival was born under most auspicious circumstances. This year, Sokoloff made a generous contribution of his own to the festival organization to help insure its continuation.

"The funds will go to support theater rentals, speaker expenses, printing costs and other expenses," said Gervase. "This was a real vote of confidence."

"We previewed about 25 films for the first festival," said Ruben. "Some we were familiar with, others we found on the Web. Others fell into our hands magically."

"Vajra Sky Over Tibet" was one of the magical events of that year, a special preview screening of John Bush's remarkable tour of the remaining holy sites in Tibet. It was the first documentary ever officially sanctioned by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The screening of "Vajra Sky" along with the current line up of remarkable speakers and screenings for 2006 may help to establish the Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival in years to come as a convergence point for leading thinkers, writers and filmmakers dealing with themes of spirituality in the media. Gervase and Ruben know it won't happen all at once.

"We rode on the coat tails of the Dalai Lama the first year," says Ruben. "This year we are on our own."

The fascinating program Gervase and Ruben have put together for this year's festival shows that they may have what it takes to pull it off. Even while holding down full-time jobs, they have managed to organize a stimulating program of speakers, spiritual cinema, and juried awards, which provide a topical survey of the sacred and the mystical from around the world.

"We see The Spiritual Film Festival is an opportunity to be exposed to various spiritual traditions around the globe and to learn to appreciate them," said Ruben, who was recently struck by the similarities within his own Tibetan Buddhist practice and those of the fundamentalist Pentecostals, which he learned about while previewing a documentary.

"Underneath the labels, we are all human beings."

Among the film festivals from which Gervase and Ruben watch for ideas are: Parabola Magazine's Cinema of the Spirit; The International Buddhist Film Festival; God on Film, from New York City; and The World Spiritual Film Festival, from Goa, India.

"There are others, which focus on particular traditions," said Ruben. "Jewish festivals, LDS festivals, Christian festivals. Our own criteria are based on bringing as much diversity as possible. We also refuse to screen anything that denigrates a particular tradition. And then there are the elements of quality filmmaking we look for, like production values, cinematography, good story-telling."

Gervase added: "We are putting together a patch-work quilt. We hope that the festival comes together as a full experience, and as a gift to the community."

With speakers like Dr. Nathan Katz, the founder of The Center for the Study of Spirituality at Florida International University, and other noted authors and filmmakers, the festival should shed light on what the word "spirituality" means in today's society.

"Katz's story is amazing," said Ruben. "He came full circle from Judaism, to being a practicing Sufi Dervish, to a Tibetan Buddhist yogi, and then back to his own Jewish tradition."

Katz will speak on "Globalization and Spirituality" at the film festival.

Another film, which Ruben and Gervase have high regard for, is "Mind Games." It follows Dr. Tim French as he succumbs to Lou Gherig's disease.

"This is a story about the resilience of the human spirit," said Gervase. "The love affair between French and his wife challenges our traditional views about relationships."

"You don't walk away from this kind of movie complaining about the camera angles," said Ruben "You walk away saying, 'How can I change my life?'"

Link to post
Share on other sites

two more movies:

ANGRY MONK

This historical documentary tells the story of Gendun Choephel, a legendary

figure in Tibet, who turned from the monastic life he was born to (as the

reincarnation of a Buddhist lama), to become a fierce critic of his

country's religious conservatism and isolationism.

http://www.frif.com/new2006/angr.html FULL SYNOPSIS

WANDERING SOULS

Thirty years after the end of the war against the United States, two

Vietnamese veterans continue to search for the remains of their dead

comrades and, in Buddhist tradition, bring their spirits "back home."

http://www.frif.com/new2006/wan.html FULL SYNOPSIS

Bankei

Edited by bankei
Link to post
Share on other sites

Werner Herzog's documentary Wheel of Time looks interesting:

Wheel of Time

Wheel of Time, Werner Herzog’s Tibetan Buddhism documentary, opened in the United States in New York City on June 15 for a one-week run, and while in its form as “observer” the film neglects to examine the “whys” of Buddhist life, it is magnificent to watch and can touch very deeply.

Filmed in Bodh Gaya and Graz (Austria) during the 2002 Kalachakra initiations (the 12-day process in which Tibetan Buddhist monks are ordained), and including spectacular footage of and around western Tibet’s Mt. Kailash, the 80-minute film features insightful -- and typically charming -- clips from the German filmmaker’s interview with His Holiness Dalai Lama.

But the film’s real “star” is the metaphor for the impermanence of life, in the form of the giant (seven foot diameter), meticulously created Kalachakra sand mandala, representing the wheel of time, that is traditionally created (and ultimately destroyed) for the initiation.

The mandala itself is extraordinary. It includes representation of 722 deities, symbolizing various aspects of consciousness and reality, all part of the ultimate wisdom of the Kalachakra deity. Dedicated to peace and physical balance, both for individuals and for the world, the mandala is painstakingly constructed of grains of colored sand, and, once created, is so intricately fragile that it must be encased in glass to protect it from even a human breath, which can destroy it.

Sand, traditionally made from crushed precious stones, is used in the mandala’s creation due to the precious substances involved and the great skill required to create a mandala’s exquisite details. Since each grain of sand is charged with the blessings of the ritual process, the entire sand mandala embodies a vast store of spiritual energy.

At the initiations’ conclusion, the mandala is destroyed by sweeps of His Holiness’ hand, and the sand is dispersed in the nearby river, from which it will ultimately enter the sea and spread blessings to the world.

There are many moments from Wheel of Time that will stay with viewers for a very long time, including an interview with a monk who traveled more than 3,000 miles to Bodh Gaya, doing body-length prostrations along the entire way, His Holiness’ playful description of the center of the universe, the various overviews and close-ups of the 500,000 pilgrims who traveled to Bodh Gaya for the event and the combination of grand scale beauty and physical hardships endured by those pilgrims who travel to and then circumambulate Mt. Kailash.

There are also scenes in which an explanation of the rituals and behaviors, and the fervor and devotion that accompany them, would be helpful, but Herzog, who also self-narrates the film, directs Wheel of Time as a witness, allowing the breathtaking visuals to speak for themselves. And for those with even a little knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism, and the motivations of its practitioners, they do. Nevertheless, an opportunity to both engage and teach in the context of this powerful film has been only partly realized.

Source: The Times of Tibet.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Wheel of Time looks intriguing, esp with Werner Herzog directing. I just searched for it on Amazon and found the Amazon user reviews themselves interesting.

I first read about Mount Kailash in one of Lama Govinda's books. Pilgrims at the time (1930s) would put water from its sacred lakes into bottles and take it home with them. Not long after I read the book, I happened to flip open the Lonely Planet Guide to Tibet and read this: "Don't be surprised if you see Western backpackers flinging themselves naked into the lakes." :o

Edited by camerata
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm picking a copy of Act Normal up from the director in Bangkok next week. Also just received a copy of Bae Yong-kyun's Why Did Bodhidharma Go East? but haven't had a chance to watch it yet.

Hi Sabaijai

How did you like "Act Normal"?

Bankei

I haven't picked it up yet, my trip to BKK was put forward ... will post a quick review after I've seen it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 months later...
My number once choice? Angulimala. I don't know how accurate it is but it is not boring.

Not a bad effort. It does deviate from the traditional story, but in a way that makes it more interesting as a movie. But its problem is it doesn't seem to fall squarely into any particular category. Not really an action movie because it's just one guy slaughtering people. It probably wouldn't appeal to serious Buddhists because of the non-orthodox story and all the killing. I suppose it's a drama, but it's pretty gloomy and the acting isn't all that good. With the ominous chanting on the soundtrack and the appearance of the guru, it almost seems like the director toyed with the idea of making it a horror movie.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

"The Rise and Fall of Buddhism in India"

Dredging my memory a little here but was made last year by a Thai production company...

Thai dialog with English sub-titles.... Great scenery...

I think there is 13 one hour segments available on 5 DVDs.. was also shown over many weeks on Channel 9...

Written and directed by Laksana Chirachant and can be purchased on line from the production company - www.panoramaworldwide.com Site is in Thai so you may need some assistance..

Bapak

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...
Opening 15 Sep in the USA, Zen Noir looks like an interesting Buddhist detective yarn.

Amazon customers seemed to like the DVD but film critics didn't:

"Poverty row rarely has been as poverty stricken as this digital feature. The whole thing looks as if it was shot in a black box, with only a few wall hangings and teapots to suggest a Buddhist temple, where a nameless detective seems to be investigating a murder. The actors, all unprofessional with the exception of Kim Chan as the Zen master, step on each other's clipped lines so regularly that it becomes a stylistic affectation, like Mamet directing Beckett. The detective, who is not so much solving a crime as dealing with grief issues (flashbacks of his deceased wife look like Clairol commercials), reaches enlightenment when he realizes the orange is just as delicious when consumed on a bad day as on a good day. Writer/director Marc Rosenbush's first film, from the false toughness of its surface to its soft, pulpy heart, will please neither aficionados of the detective genre nor devotees of Eastern religion. Those with a taste for both will have twice the reasons to dislike it."

Link to post
Share on other sites

Kim -- the novel by Rudyard Kipling -- (1984) starring Peter O'Toole

Amazon.com review:

"Based on one of Kipling's greatest novels, Kim is the rousing story of a fifteen-year-old orphan boy living by his wits in 1890's India. On a quest to discover his real identity, Kim is befriended by two remarkably different men: a saintly Buddhist monk, who sees the spirited boy as his "perfect" disciple, and a British spy, who trains Kim for a daring mission against Russian invaders. As Kim realizes, he may assume many identities--Indian, Englishman, disciple, spy--but he must always remain true to himself.

"The international cast includes Peter O'Toole (Lawrence of Arabia), Bryan Brown (F/X, The Thorn Birds), and John Rhys-Davies (Raiders of the Lost Ark). Beautifully shot throughout India, Kim is a heart-filled adventure for the entire family."

BTW Buddhists are allowed to have fun.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

I watched Act Normal last night, very interesting film documentary that follows the tale of a British man who ordains as a Theravada Buddhist monk at an early age, first for two years in the UK, then 10 years in Thailand. He is then invited to administer to the Thai community in Iceland, thus becoming the first Buddhist monk ever to reside in Iceland. He stays there two years, if I remember correctly (his first stint as a monks lasts 16 years total), before leaving the monkhood to get a taste of 'normal' life as a married man. After working as a security guard in Iceland for awhile, the man leaves his wife and returns to the monkhood.

The director filmed the man's story over a 10-year period that covers his residence in Thailand and Iceland, the dissolution of the marriage and his return to robes. It's directed in a very interesting way, attempting (if I may interpret the director's intentions) to evoke the idea that both the 'normal' life and the monk's life are equally dream-like. Along the way we get a fair amount of Buddhist philosophy, blended with humour, and one man's ruminations on the illusory nature of romantic love.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I watched Act Normal last night, very interesting film documentary that follows the tale of a British man who ordains as a Theravada Buddhist monk at an early age, first for two years in the UK, then 10 years in Thailand. He is then invited to administer to the Thai community in Iceland, thus becoming the first Buddhist monk ever to reside in Iceland. He stays there two years, if I remember correctly (his first stint as a monks lasts 16 years total), before leaving the monkhood to get a taste of 'normal' life as a married man. After working as a security guard in Iceland for awhile, the man leaves his wife and returns to the monkhood.

The director filmed the man's story over a 10-year period that covers his residence in Thailand and Iceland, the dissolution of the marriage and his return to robes. It's directed in a very interesting way, attempting (if I may interpret the director's intentions) to evoke the idea that both the 'normal' life and the monk's life are equally dream-like. Along the way we get a fair amount of Buddhist philosophy, blended with humour, and one man's ruminations on the illusory nature of romantic love.

Any chance of purchasing a video of Act Normal in Thailand, or perhaps even in Chiangmai? My appetite has been whetted...

Link to post
Share on other sites
I watched Act Normal last night, very interesting film documentary that follows the tale of a British man who ordains as a Theravada Buddhist monk at an early age, first for two years in the UK, then 10 years in Thailand. He is then invited to administer to the Thai community in Iceland, thus becoming the first Buddhist monk ever to reside in Iceland. He stays there two years, if I remember correctly (his first stint as a monks lasts 16 years total), before leaving the monkhood to get a taste of 'normal' life as a married man. After working as a security guard in Iceland for awhile, the man leaves his wife and returns to the monkhood.

The director filmed the man's story over a 10-year period that covers his residence in Thailand and Iceland, the dissolution of the marriage and his return to robes. It's directed in a very interesting way, attempting (if I may interpret the director's intentions) to evoke the idea that both the 'normal' life and the monk's life are equally dream-like. Along the way we get a fair amount of Buddhist philosophy, blended with humour, and one man's ruminations on the illusory nature of romantic love.

Any chance of purchasing a video of Act Normal in Thailand, or perhaps even in Chiangmai? My appetite has been whetted...

I haven't seen it for sale anywhere here. The director, Olaf Le Fleur, sent me a licensed DVD. Perhaps I should donate it to a worthy DVD library in Chiang Mai, any suggestions? AUA?

Link to post
Share on other sites
I watched Act Normal last night, very interesting film documentary that follows the tale of a British man who ordains as a Theravada Buddhist monk at an early age, first for two years in the UK, then 10 years in Thailand. He is then invited to administer to the Thai community in Iceland, thus becoming the first Buddhist monk ever to reside in Iceland. He stays there two years, if I remember correctly (his first stint as a monks lasts 16 years total), before leaving the monkhood to get a taste of 'normal' life as a married man. After working as a security guard in Iceland for awhile, the man leaves his wife and returns to the monkhood.

The director filmed the man's story over a 10-year period that covers his residence in Thailand and Iceland, the dissolution of the marriage and his return to robes. It's directed in a very interesting way, attempting (if I may interpret the director's intentions) to evoke the idea that both the 'normal' life and the monk's life are equally dream-like. Along the way we get a fair amount of Buddhist philosophy, blended with humour, and one man's ruminations on the illusory nature of romantic love.

Any chance of purchasing a video of Act Normal in Thailand, or perhaps even in Chiangmai? My appetite has been whetted...

I haven't seen it for sale anywhere here. The director, Olaf Le Fleur, sent me a licensed DVD. Perhaps I should donate it to a worthy DVD library in Chiang Mai, any suggestions? AUA?

Great idea. AUA would be the best place to benefit the most number of English speaking Buddhists or movie enthusiasts. The gift of the Dhamma (albeit in the form of film drama) is the best gift ever!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Beautifully shot throughout India, Kim is a heart-filled adventure for the entire family."

BTW Buddhists are allowed to have fun.

Having recently read Kim and The Search for Kim, I ordered both DVD versions of the movie from cdwow.com. For fun I think I preferred the 1951 version, even though it had some Hollywood cornball and the entire Himalayan sequence was changed to give Errol Flynn a bigger part and accommodate the young age of the actor playing Kim. The villains are really villanous in this one.

The 1984 version sticks more closely to the book, is longer and more realistic. Kim is played by an older Indian actor who seems a bit mature for the early scenes but is perfect for the Himalayan scenes. Bryan Brown looks the part of an Afghan horse-trader whereas Flynn looks more like an Arabian prince.

Neither movie makes any effort to make the lama appear oriental. In the earlier version he's played with quiet dignity, but wears a hat that makes him look like a cross between Friar Tuck and Little John. Peter O'Toole's lama stands out more with his yellow robes, bald head and scraggly grey hair but he plays the character with no dignity, like a staggering old duffer who's escaped from the old folks' home. And his portrayal of the lama's enlightenment is like someone experiencing the onset of an epileptic fit!

With so many excellent Asian actors in movies these days, not to mention real lamas and tulkus, it's truly bizarre watching a farang play an Asian. Not just the looks, but they don't walk the same, don't move the same, and don't have the necessary reserved demeanour. Well, OK, David Carradine excepted. :o

I enjoyed both versions of Kim but it's a difficult one to film and the book worked better for me.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
Kundun

This is a very authentic portrayal of Tibetan Buddhism, but it makes no concession to an audience who have no background - it would I guess be a bit esoteric and impressionistic (I do have the 'background' so I can't put myself in those shoes) but very powerful for that.

Hi andyinkat,

finally got a copy of Kundun recently and watched it. Now I am glad there is someone with more background than me. There are so many questions:

1. Why this episode with the regent? I would have preferred to expand the sequence with the walking stick instead.

2. What do the twigs in the chimneys mean?

3. Why so many performances by the oracle? I understand he rarely is consulted. From the film one could think they had seesions every other week. :o

Apropos oracle: there is another film around that I am looking for: the state oracle of tibet

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

Buddha's Lost Children, about Thai Buddhism, was screened at the Newport Beach Film Festival recently.

More info:

http://newportbeach.bside.com/?_view=_film...filmId=16701886

http://www.buddhaslostchildren.com/Buddha&...20Children.html

from the NBFF press:

Stunning cinematography, intimate filmmaking and a compelling story make this film an extraordinary experience of a hidden realm. The term 'grassroots Buddhism' gains a new meaning, and through the eyes of small children we share in their amazing true journey when they transform from neglected village boys to self-confident novices. Filmed over the course of a year on location in Thailand this film is an amazing true story of compassion and tough love. Thai with English subtitles.
Festival awards (from the production website:
Buddha’s Lost Children wins the top documentary prize at the AFI Festival in Los Angeles receiving the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary. The film also was awarded the City of Rome prize, at the Asiaticafilmediale in Rome and a Silver Dove at DOK Leipzig: 'For this extraordinary real-life adventure that recounts a superb tale of a heroic undertaking to create a better world, and all this brought to the screen with a breathtaking cinematic sensibility.' Jury report

Buddha's Lost Children was also awarded the Crystal Film prize, at The Netherlands Film Festival for reaching an audience of 10,000 in its first 15 days of release.

At the Vancouver International Film Festival 2006, Buddha’s Lost Children was a runner up in the People's Choice Award for most popular film, and was nominated for The National Film

Board Award for Best Documentary Feature.

The film also screened to great popular acclaim in the ‘Highlights of the Lowlands’ section of the recent International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA).

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

'Groundhog Day' has sometimes been reffered to as having a good theme similar to Buddhist thought..... keep coming back until the lessons are learned

I always shudder when I think of the Title to 'The Little Buddha' although I like the movie....... it should have been...'the Little Lama'

the subject of the movie 'Act Normal' is a regular poster at the 'E-Sangha' website forums.... http://www.e-sangha.com/

I also liked 'The Golden Child'... but why do many of these have to start with a massacre of monks....'The Bullet proof monk' did too

Link to post
Share on other sites

I watched the 'spring,summer,fall,winter....spring' one yesterday...

Mahayana in Korea is obviously very different to Theravada here..... the guy has sex whilst a monk... disrobes... then comes back as a monk

don't they have Paraccika offences then? Here he wouldn't be able to re-ordain.

They like their little doorways.... but you can just walk around the sides...odd! ...like in his bedroom?? like setting-up a doorframe in the middle of a field.... and only allowing yourself to go through it... not around....!!

nice setting though.... the hut floating in the middle of the lake... nice retreat place

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
The Mindful Way is a 20-minute documentary about Buddhism in Thailand, but in particular at Ajahn Chah's monastery. Contains a short interview with Ajahn Chah himself. This video clip is on Google Video so it can be viewed in Thailand.
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

The Sri Lankan film, Sankara is playing at the 2007 Bangkok International Film Festival.

24 July 2007: 12:00 Sankara (85') (C 2006 / Sri Lanka / Feature / Colour / 35mm / Thai & Eng Sub.

26 July 2007: 17:40 Sankara (85') (C 2006 / Sri Lanka / Feature / Colour / 35mm / Thai & Eng Sub.

SF World Cinema #6

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...