The Tibetans refer to the Dalai Lama as 'Kundun', which means 'The Presence'. He was forced to escape from his native home, Tibet, when communist China invaded and enforced an oppressive regime upon the peaceful nation of Tibet. The Dalai Lama escaped to India in 1959 and has been living in exile in Dharamsala ever since. Written by
Martin Scorsese dedicated this film to his mother Catherine Scorsese who had died during the pre-production of this film, because "the Dalai Lama represents unconditional love, and to me my mother was the closest person with that kind of love". See more »
When Kundun is dreaming that he is surrounded by monks slaughtered by the Chinese, the "dead" monk closest to him moves his eyelids. See more »
An exceptional film which refuses to compromise its artistic values
"Kundun" is one of those rare masterpieces that unfortunately might be run over by more Hollywood acceptable films like "Titanic" and "Seven Years in Tibet" (both films that I still admire). While these films were great, their primary purpose seemed to be entertainment alone. Scorsese creates a work out of the bounds of traditional films; "Kundun" is at once a spiritual journey, a compelling story despite its downplayed action, and a delight for the eyes and ears. It is both entertainment and art. The audience isn't captivated by dramatic action, but simply because it is so beautiful. At the same time, it doesn't produce the slightly sleepy sensation other artistic works like "The Last Emperor of China" can, despite their beauty (I personally loved "Last Emperor"). Not once was I tempted to turn away from the screen.
Scorsese mixes symbolic images and a subtle yet emotionally stirring soundtrack into a non-traditional plot structure, creating an exotic and spiritual vision meeting the demands of its eastern inspiration.
I am not a historian, so I cannot speak about its accuracy, though from what I can tell, Scorsese did his homework. Even if that were not true, this film is not meant as a documentary. It has the same emotional power of the finest art, with a simplicity and directness which keeps it from being pretentious. If you add to this historical accuracy, all the better. But it is not meant to influence via facts but via emotion.
Even those viewers who don't normally sit through credits will most likely do so, simply for the chance to let the film soak in. You need the time to digest everything you've been shown and to sit in contemplative peace. This is a film that inspires and delights. It is the film I wish I could have created. Scorsese has certainly produced the best film of the year, if not more.
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