Unmistaken Child - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Unmistaken Child Reviews

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May 24, 2014
Great documentary about the search for a reincarnated Tibetan Lama.
½ April 17, 2013
This is definitely an interesting movie and an intriguing look into Buddhism and the way new Lamas are chosen. It can also become very sweet and emotional. However, from a film perspective, some of the scenes are really long and things generally move really slowly.
August 24, 2012
The Buddhist concept of reincarnation, while both mysterious and enchanting, is hard for most westerners to grasp. UNMISTAKEN CHILD follows the 4-year search for the reincarnation of Lama Konchog, a world-renowned Tibetan master who passed away in 2001 at age 84.
I generally love documentaries, but I did have a hard time getting through this one. I couldn't help but wonder if Buddist hang on to the Idea that we never really leave this earth as a mechanism to cope and grieve.
March 14, 2012
Its a wonderful documentary, let us understand more about the culture and religion. touching and never fails to make me tear.
½ December 12, 2011
Esupendo y emotivo documetal.
½ November 11, 2011
This is brilliant - a really lovely story with incredible scenery.
The main monk is a very heart-warming character. Thought we would see more of the Dalai Lama but this scene was very short - this is my only negative from this film. I would love to see the sequel on how the little Lama is developing.
½ September 17, 2011
Interesting look into another culture. A bit sad, heartbreaking and thought-provoking.
June 30, 2011
Really liked this documentary, it was just interesting to watch about the Tibetan culture. Tenzin what a humble soul, trying to search for his teachers incarnation.
½ May 28, 2011
Many moments and shots from Unmistaken Child, if you didn't know any better, look they came from a time long past. (Despite itself, the film is shot on DV, seemingly out of necessity than out of design. While the recorded material can never appreciate the source to its fullest, it at implies greater authenticity.) Shanty homes of brown and gray are surrounded by the lush-yet-harsh-ness of nature: of green mountainsides covered forever in mist and mystery. The film's design relies on this environment, because it plays such an important role. At its most base, nature at least reminds us of death, of how natural it actually is. How inescapable. And death (and by extension, new life) is "Unmistaken Child's" central theme: a disciple of the great Buddhist teacher, Geshe Lama Konshog, is charged after the Lama's passing to find his reincarnation, his 'unmistaken' spirit made tangible. Whatever (non)spiritual angle you come from, the idea can delve into profundities on labyrinth human nature, truth and fiction, and the sheer beauty of human relationships. The filmmakers, thankfully, discover all these things, due in part to those two wonderful flukes of documentary filmmaking - serendipity and happenstance - which they find in abundance.

The film's physical protagonist, Tenzin Zopa, resembles a malnourished Tony Leung Chiu Wai - both exhibit that strange blend of restive worldliness with vulnerability and despair. He is composed, sure, but at the mercy of greater forces than him: and he knows it. It's perfectly clear that Tenzin believes in his quest, although initially, for the wrong reasons: if he's not spiritually attune, if he singles an ignorant, unwilling charlatan as his master Lama, it could misrepresent his faith to outsiders. And Tenzin is naturally candid: how can he, a mere servant, recognize the Lama Incarnate? He feels spiritually undernourished for the task. And for his journey, Tenzin has to travel to his personal childhood province, to his town, into his past. He must make everyday decisions for himself, he must to interact with the religious establishment - all things Tenzin himself admits were handled by his mentor. This internal struggle marries his physical coming-of-age with a spiritual pilgrimage. To a greater degree, the story's whole improbable web of probability hints at a Divine design, like a last, after-death object lesson from teacher to pupil. It's a masterstroke of narrative documentary that only a few leaders of the form would attempt.

The great difficulty of the film is figuring whether it - truly - believes in its central narrative, but this luckily lends the proceedings a subtle tension, one which works to its benefit. The filmmakers try their damnedest to arrange their footage with a sense of objectivity, inserting awkward asides and glances of stuttering theological foreboding - either in red baby herrings or the toddler Lama's many identity tests. In moments, you find yourself questioning even the best intentions of the monks: what are the long term effects for the reincarnated Lama's parents to give up their child in such a way? Or the boy's sense of inflated worth? Tenzin receives the hint to the boy's whereabouts through a distant relative. Is this really Divine or personal wish-fulfillment? Are we simply witnessing remarkable feats of chance? The filmmakers are keenly aware that their intimate proximity to the subject could cloud their documentary intentions, and it asks the hard questions when it can. But thankfully in moments of grace, they let this go.

As a viewer, I don't look necessarily for a film to validate my personal beliefs, or to uphold every political, spiritual, or social precept I hold dear. Film would not be as fun, just as life is never that simple. The complexities of life lose their sense of a greater Design. Tenzin's quest for his teacher's reincarnation has so much Byzantine pathos it's hard not embrace a certain mystery. How strange it is, in "Unmistaken Child," to actually see, without distance, the monk play with a child who used to be his spiritual mentor, and for Tenzin to teach his teacher about Buddhist dogma? You could perceive Geshe Lama, in remarkable foresight and spiritual clarity, teaching his disciple Tenzin something greater about himself, about the mysteries of life and death: the Lama himself as that object lesson. Or, it could all be folly. The film embraces both possibilities, and to its credit and against the odds, finds a middle way.
April 15, 2011
This movie was shot beautifully, in a beautiful place with beautiful people. I wasn't too sure what to expect when I heard of this movie, but after I watched it I had to recommend it to everyone.

It was so thought provoking and unique.
I wish there were more amazing documentaries like Unmistaken Child.
March 4, 2011
Five stars for the making of the documentary. It was a very interesting view of Tibetan Buddhism. Personally, though, I was saddened when the child left his parents. Beautiful movie nonetheless.
½ February 8, 2011
ел 3/4век, ? г 3/4в 3/4?ей а 1/4илией Zopa, ие, еи 1/2ка 1/2аи ?в 3/4ег 3/4 1/2а?,ав 1/2ика. ,, из важе 1/2и? к 1/2е 1/4 1/2елз? 1/2е п 3/4веи, бддиз 1/4 :)
January 1, 2011
A really interesting view on Buddhism, its believes and how they work. This must certainly have been a labor of love considering the span of time it was filmed for.
½ October 13, 2010
A bit slow at times, but if you come with an open mind and patience this documentary may open you up to the idea of reincarnation. An intimate look into the world of the Tibetan Monks.
½ July 29, 2010
A fantastic documentary about the search for the reincarnation of Lama Konchog. Very fascinating and well done.
July 10, 2010
A fascinating glimpse into the world of Bhuddism...dealing with re-incarnation, finding a reborn soul, and having to let go of a child for the good of a Lama's followers. A must watch!!
½ June 15, 2010
This is a documentary about the search for the reincarnated being of a monk's master who has departed. The master has taken care of the young monk ever since he was a child. Now, he is given the heavy task to search for this "unmistaken child".

Watching the young monk, Tenzin Zopa, searching for his master is uplifting and inspiring. He is so ever gentle and patient. His journey is filled with emotional rides and very poignant. It gives us (the outsiders- believers and non-believers) a glimpse of a Tibetian ritual about reincarnation. Based on the direction of the smoke from the funeral pyre, direction of the footprint found on the ashes as well as tips given by an astrologer, Tenzin Zopa sets out to search for his master's reincarnation being.

For me, the most touching part was the part where the parents of the little boy have to decide whether to leave their child in a monastery for a long time. No parents have to be asked to make a decision if they can part with their children.
½ June 13, 2010
A show which depicts the belief of reincarnation in Buddhism, the show is about the search of a child who is supposedly the reincarnation of Lama Konchog, a world-renowned Tibetan master. I thought it was a very interesting and controversial movie, which has raised a lot of debates on reincarnation itself and also the problem of child abuse.
A great watch at the Picturehouse.
½ June 13, 2010
What do you stand for?

This movie forces you to confront your thoughts about morality because if you don't believe in reincarnation, you are not going to be very emotionally invested in the protagonist's search for his reincarnated master. Then again, wiser words have never been spoken than those penned by Whang Yee Ling, 8 Days' movie critic: It doesn't matter whether the audience believe. Tenzin [the protagonist] does.

The first half of the movie was centred on him trekking from village to village, trying to locate his master. And this primeval-like quest, heavy on heart and devoid of modern technologies say erm, the GPS, was soul-stirring to watch. I would have liked more up-close-and-personal interviews on what he thought about while trekking these villages. Was he scared? Was he confident that he would locate his master eventually? Did he ever second-guess himself?

I also wondered how the Dalai Lama certified the toddler as the reincarnated master. What sorts of tests were conducted? And how could he be sure that his tests were conclusive? I guess that's not the main point of this movie but it set me thinking. I really wanted the director to be more critical and dig for answers. The logical-inclined me screamed my need for confirmative answers!

I acknowledge though that this is more of a movie about the human spirit than about asserting rationality. The scene in which the parents were asked to give up their child (i.e. the reincarnated master) to their monastery was eye-opening and the scene I really hoped to watch. I wished that Tenzin hadn't been so eager to explain the whole situation but instead wait for the parents to voice out how they felt. He was dominating the conversation and I would have preferred if the parents were just given the silence to think, process their thoughts and talk through how they felt. Nonetheless, we have the mother agree stoically but firmly to giving up the child and the father agree hesitantly likewise "for the benefit of all sentient beings". What a quiet show of strength and sacrifice.

An intimate and privileged peek into a life that's beyond the imagination of an urban dweller.
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