Kundun

For anyone interested in Buddhism, Tibet, or simply how the world works in mysterious ways, I highly recommend watching Kundun. This factual tale traces the progress of the current Dalai Lama from his childhood - when he was an unknown farmboy in a remote farming village - through his discovery and eventual escape from Tibet as the Chinese came in with bombing runs.

The story is almost entirely told from the boy's point of view. This is very charming at times - but can also be confusing. The boy is baffled by many things which are going on around him - but that means we as viewers are also getting confused. Just why are some of the regent changes occurring? Just what exactly is going on in the political situation? You really need to research it all beforehand, so you understand the context the movie is set in.

With that all being said, it is a fantastically moving movie. You get a sense both of the real and the mythical here. Is the young boy really a reincarnation of a previous person? In some situations he seems to know something only the previous Dalai Lama would know. In other situations he is almost looking for visual cues to determine if he should choose item X or Y.

The landscapes are, of course, gorgeous. Between the clothing, the scenery, the movement of the people, the feel of the language, you can almost smell the spices and feel the breeze on your face.

Perhaps more than that, you really begin to appreciate just how special it is to be able to be who you are, to believe what you want to believe in, without being bombed or shot at for it.

I like that Kundun does not try to portray the Dalai Lama as a perfect being. He is stubborn at times, goes through normal growing pains. His family is a little uncertain at times, having him go from the precocious child to the ruler of their country.

In many ways this is a documentary. It captures the views, language, culture of Tibet in an era of transition. That alone is worth a watch or two.

Highly recommended.

Buy Kundun from Amazon.com

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