Monday, June 25, 2007
10 Questions for the Dalai Lama
10 Questions for the Dalai Lama (2007, Monterrey Media, dir. Rick Ray, 85 min, PG) has filmmaker Rich Ray (his wife Sharon helped produce the film, too) tracing the life history of the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso (1935- ), and then, in the second half of the film, posing questions to him, about, for example, why the poor often seem happier than the rich. The Dalai Lama gives common sense answers, like the poor have nothing material to lose.
The film starts by showing how monks search the Himalaya (with a predecessor called the Panchem Lama) for a boy whose answers to questions shows signs of reincarnation, and the four year old is brought to Lhasa and groomed to become the boy spiritual leader. His head is shaved (and there are head shaving scenes on camera). As a teenager, the Dalai Lama has to deal with Chairman Mao and the Chinese. First he trusts them and tries to work with them, but China turns on him, intending to eliminate Buddhism or any religion from Tibet and impose Communism and eventually “the Cultural Revolution” where intellectuals are brought low, although Tibetans already lived a humble life. Nevertheless, the Potala Palace remained intact, and eventually the Chinese would build a high speed rail link to Tibet. The Palace was one of ABC’s new Seven Wonders of the World.
The Dalai Lama, fleeing the Chinese in 1959, set up government in exile in Dharamsala, India, in another mountain monastery. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and gave the money away. The Chinese have kidnapped and secluded the newest Panchem Lama and apparently intend to install a fake Dalai Lama in Lhasa after Gyatso's eventual passing.
On Monday, May 7, 2001, I saw the Dalai Lama, in his usual brownish red garb, while waiting in line at Schipol in Amsterdam to board a KLM plane back to Minneapolis. The film points out that he usually travels coach with the public.
The film is shot in digital video, just in 4:3 aspect ratio.
There is another independent film review today of “Show Business: The Road to Broadway”, here.