Tibet: A Buddhist Trilogy (1984)
This trilogy of films on Tibetans in exile focuses first on daily life in a refugee community in southern India, then on life and rituals in a similar community far to the north, in Nepal, and finally, on a two-hour puja or meditation on Green Tara, the national protectoress of Tibet and remover of life's obstacles. The Tara meditation is chanted with drums, horns, cymbals, and multiple hand gestures, and illustrated by images of the green-skinned female saint (bodhisattva) sitting on a lotus. It is spellbinding and inspirational for some viewers, and a little too long for others. The first two separate films, an hour each, show carpet makers, farmers tilling their fields, scenes at school, a cremation, monks in theological debate, scenes of monastic life, and a brief interview with the Dalai Lama (Noble Peace prize winner and acknowledged religious leader of the Tibetans). This trilogy is excellent for anyone wishing to expand their knowledge of a culture endangered by the Communist Chinese policy of suppressing both Buddhism and the Tibetan language in Tibet, not to mention using Tibet as a continuing site for nuclear testing, and the dumping of nuclear waste. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Tibet: A Buddhist Trilogy
Coleman's ethnographic style resembles the American masters and provides a startling insider's view of the selfless devotion of the monks.
Long before the two-hour mark, Coleman's documentary begins to more resemble a photographic tour through a museum than an exploration of a living religion.
A challenge, so dense is it in the philosphical arcana of Tibetan Buddhism. But the images are amazing and intimate, particularly those involving the Dalai Lama as he greets his flock with ease and good humour.
A rigorous, labor-intensive viewing experience, but there's something to be said for its unadorned purity.
I, for one, knew nothing about Buddhism going into this film and was eager to find out about the principles of the religion. After two hours of grueling ceremonies and rituals, I knew barely anything more than I did before.
This pilgrim's taste runs more to Martin Scorsese's Tibetan drama Kundun, and a third-act exit should not be taken by the pious as a skeptic's review.
Recut and reassembled at just a little over two hours, the new version of the film is a staggering and bracing object, stylistically bold and hypnotically captivating.
It's an impressionistic experience rather than a linear one, and the process of surrendering to the images and rhythms of lives lived in simultaneous harmony with the physical and the spiritual is greatly helped by the chants.
Watching tranquility and devotion does not translate to nonpractitioners as much more than a travel ad for the budding Larry Darrells among us.
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