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
Cinematographer Roger Deakins believes that Martin Scorsese hired him for the documentary experience, given that they were working with a cast of non-actors. Deakins believed that he was hired because he's have the ability to naturally sense when the scenes would be properly executed when the actors finished a take. See more »
When the Dalai Lama flees Tibet, he has a blood blister in beneath his fingernail in the extreme closeup shots. These are not there in the medium shots, although you see his finger clearly. See more »
As "The Last Temptation of Christ" showed, Martin Scorsese is not a filmmaker interested in playing it safe when it comes to religion. Instead, he wants to get into the heart and soul of it. While that film was obviously closer to his heart, since he was raised Catholic, this one burns with the same conviction and passion. The difference is he and writer Melissa Mathison adjust themselves to the way of storytelling needed to tell the life of the Dalai Lama. Unlike say, "Little Buddha", though, where Bertolucci seemed to have no sense of distance from his subject, Scorsese does, so we are allowed to come to our own conclusions rather than having them shoved down our throats.
Visually and aurally, this is also a real treat, with the images being more powerful than anything Scorsese has done before. And while the music here is old territory for Philip Glass, he produces a stunning score which should have won the Oscar. The mostly non-professional cast(I did see a familiar face here and there, but I can't remember them) also does good work.
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