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Samsara
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Reviews & Ratings for
Samsara More at IMDbPro »

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56 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

Different way of interpretation of Buddism

10/10
Author: from Thailand
23 March 2005

I found this movie, a very interesting and meaningful. There were not more than 100 words went on in this movie but the picture itself, gave the viewer many things to think about. What Tashi really did was reversing the Buddha path. Buddha was the one normal human being before he realize the need to discover what life is all about, what he discovered was suffering in living one life. He tried to find the ways to settle with all the suffering, not by avoiding but realize that there are suffering and and he faced it in the noble way.

Tashi, however, live his life in the monastery, believe in something he was told to believe not something that he discovered himself. Every human has the feeling of sexual awakening at one point of time, what Tashi did was that he quit the monk-hood, partly because the guiltiness of having such feeling but at the same time desire to discovered the reality for himself. HE entered into the life and began to discover with all the truth in the world, full with desire, anger, jealously, deception etc. but at the same time he discover love, caring, warmth, and happiness. The decision he chose, for me, he was running away from suffering by going back to peace and serenity of being monastery. What he did was not totally right or totally wrong but it does suggesting something. HE is avoiding all the desire that always backfire him throughout the movie. Pema came to him and enlighten him with her thought. Enlightenment does not mean that you have to quit all the normal life and being alone in the temple to cut all the desires. Maybe what make you enlightened is the fact that you stay in life and faced the suffering in the acceptable noble ways. Maybe it is satisfy most of the need but at the same time conquer your own self.

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41 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

India is not Tibet

8/10
Author: Lora Traykova from Sofia, Bulgaria
28 July 2003

I have read all the comments on this film here and I was surprised one more time to see how differently people react to one and the same film. What struck me also was that some of the viewers clearly mistake Tibet for India, because apparently they don't know that there are Buddhists in India as well.

Buddhism has its origins in Hinduism itself as it is believed that Buddha is a reincarnation of lord Vishnu The Preserver, one of the three main Hindu gods. But through the centuries Buddhism slowly developed as an independent religion. The film was shot in Ladakh which is in the Indian Himalayas, not in Tibet and two of the characters go to the town of Leh which is the capital of Ladakh and hence it is also in India. I thought that it is important to clarify these details as I don't think that one should mistake Tibet for India. India is not just Bollywood and as a country living under the phrase "unity in diversity" it surely has lots of different religious communities and lots of different cultures.

As for the film itself - I loved it, not only because it has been so beautifully shot (by the Bulgarian D.P. Rali Ralchev) and not only because it meets us with a part of the world we barely know, but mostly because I could identify with the characters and their desires, anguish, pain, joy, dreams. "Samsara" (the Hindu concept of reincarnation) asks some philosophic questions in a very earthly manner, I think. The ideas of Buddhism, the detachment from earthly life in order to reach enlightenment, the conquering of ourselves, our ego, our earthly desires (to love, to have family, to enjoy the simple but earthly life of a farmer, to possess objects and to command love from the others) are ideas or rather dilemmas that many of us face from time to time. Buddha has said that the middle way is the right way to follow, but how can this way be found? Is it through experiencing the earthly life, then renouncing it and then devoting oneself to the life a monk, choosing the spiritual life in search of the almighty truth and the great soul? This was the way Buddha has chosen - being a prince himself, having a family, and then renouncing it and devoting himself to the life of a recluse, but of a recluse who has reached the enlightenment and a recluse willing to share the truth with the others.

Everyone chooses one's own way. Tashi is a person who asks himself questions and he's a person who searches for his own right path. To say that he is only an egoist who leaves his wife when he gets fed up the life of a family man and a farmer is quite simplistic, I think. I believe he has been very honest from the beginning to the end and that is why he left the monastery at first and came back to it in the end. The important idea that I have discovered was that no matter what kind of path one will choose there will always be an anguish along the way. Maybe it is because of the eternal question unanswered - what to choose - to satisfy all desires or to conquer the one and only? No matter what we choose we will always doubt from time to time that maybe we should have chosen the opposite.

What I really liked about this film also is the fact that it presented us with the female point of view in the final monologue of Tashi's wife Pema. She was given no choice from him when he decided to go back to the monastery. She had to stay behind and take care of their son. She was shown to us as the keeper of the traditions (not allowing her son to play with the modern toy his father bought him from Leh) but at the same time she had that free spirit to make love to the unknown Lama and afterward to even marry him. I liked the sensitivity of the writer / director who cared not only to show us the pain of Pema when realizing she's losing his husband, but also to make her an intelligent woman who thinks and who turns out be as wise and devoted as her Lama husband.

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27 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Profound and almost perfect

9/10
Author: abisio from Miami
6 October 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Samsara runs over two and a half hours, and arguably, it needs every minute. The story is minimal, what comes out of it is what make it worth.

A young Lama (Tashi), after a three years, three months and three days meditation secluded in a cave, is returned to this monastery and ordered as a higher level monk. However, he begins to feel some sexual awareness precipitated for a brief contact with a young woman and hesitates about the life he had chosen. Considering that Buddha began his spiritual journey at 29 (Tashi is in his early twenties), he leaves the monastery and starts a normal agriculture life in the rural Himalayas. He of course will discover all the temptations, deceptions and frustrations of the world he never knew. And he will be corrupted too.

This is not a commercial occidental movie, so even if the story seems predictable, nothing terribly dramatic or convulsed happens. The world we are seeing is a simple one. People could cheat on each others, but the value of life is high, as also is the value of love and the traditions. Tashi will try to change things but he will be the one changing. If changes are for good of evil, is for the viewer to decide.

This is not a self discovery trip either (at least for Tashi). We are the one who discover that not world is absolutely better than the other, but the human being is capable of destroying everything with his own selfishness, particularly the ones who loves.

There is not a moralizing tale here, easy answers and judgments are avoided but one. Tashi's wife final monologue, questioning the women's part in history and in the religion is as valid to Buddhism as to any other religion I know). That was an unexpected and essential surprise, creating the perfect end for an almost perfect movie.

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32 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

First Best thing that happened to me in the year 2006

10/10
Author: Emannuelle pradal from France
1 January 2006

Normally I would be with hundreds celebrating the arrival of the new year. Last night I decided to be alone with SAMSARA. When the film ended at 1h40am, I was in year 2006 -transformed. A masterpiece about choices that we all have to make sooner or later. I've spent hours surfing net on SAMSARA, reading reactions of people from Brazil to Bombay to Bucharest to Bangladesh. How wonderful so many people are united by SAMSARA. The film opens up your heart and soul. I am normally too much an intellectual when it comes to liking a film. But this one just took me like a storm -mesmerizing cinematography, soothing sound track (one of the best sound design ever!), soul-stirring landscapes and above all masterly written and directed by Pan Nalin -whoever he maybe. It is one of the most powerful first feature I have ever seen. I now eagerly await Nalin's next feature VALLEY OF FLOWERS. Meanwhile for anyone who has not yet seen this movie I say to them just go for it with open mind, leave your issues behind and just dive into SAMSARA...

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25 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

A delight for the senses

10/10
Author: yramesh from United States
27 May 2005

I loved everything about this movie, the story, the acting, the scenery and the love scenes. The raw passion that Tashi's character exudes throughout the movie and the tenderness that is Pema's character moved me.

The ending was one of the best I've seen in any movie. The poignant and piercing questions that Pema asks reminded me of a monologue from a Indian art-house film from the eighties called "Nikaah". The monologue (at the start of the movie) so eloquently spells out the plight of women throughout history.

The scene where the Sujatha lures Tashi, stands out in my mind as being very very sexy.

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26 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Tibetan Aesthetic. Sensual Women. Sex vs Monkhood

Author: dennisyoon from Washington DC
6 June 2004

I was directed to this film after reading a review of "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring Again", directed by Ki Duk Kim which is highly recommended as well.

The love scenes in Samsara are gorgeous to behold and the female love/sex interests are very seductive. Monk Tashi is very well portrayed as so human and fallible as he leaves the monastery to pursue sex or worldly life. He was raised in the monastery so as his sexuality awakened he had to find out for himself. He rationalized that even Buddha was married before he was enlightened and so Tashi felt he should be able to know this too before he devoted himself to monkhood. Little does he know what is in store for this desire he has to experience...

The tale is more of the excursion of a Monk and his experience of marriage, sex and emotions that arise than of his enlightenment. He found out what he had to know and paid the price. The film is lush with Tibetan style dress, architecture and landscapes. The love scenes are a treat for the eyes and the lead actors are very convincing yet more subtle than raw.

Check out "Kundun" and "Razor's Edge"(Bill Murray)and "Master of Zen" as well if you are interested in drama as well as spirituality.

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18 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Impressed with Samsara

10/10
Author: msleslie from Sydney Australia
19 July 2003

This is an exquisitely sensitive look at part of the life of a young lama(monk), and the choices he makes. A joy for anyone interested in Himalayan culture and religion. The photography of the extraordinary setting is moving, the soundtrack haunting, and the lead actors deeply touching in their portrayals. It took me a while to slow down and appreciate the rhythm of the film, as it is almost a meditation.

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20 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Self-Realization goes beyond gender & occupation !!

10/10
Author: Carlos Yrigoyen (carlosyrigoyen@yahoo.es) from Lima, Peru
15 January 2004

Very rarely one can find such a well balanced movie with a full commitment from the whole staff: Director (Nalin Pan), all the Actors & the total Crew. Shooting a film like this is not an easy task. The beauty of the locations is just breathless (at several thousands miles of altitude!)... And if the hall has a good air conditioning system, for sure you will really feel the freezing winds that blows at the Himalayas by watching this outstanding film. It is not only the performance of the actors (animals included!... a smart dog called Kala -"Time" in Sanskrit- by instance or some impressive eagle!) but the quality of the script. There are some passages of the film that just tastes like a short documentary. And immediately it is softly engaged with the story. No matter how high could be your achievement, if it is not on balance with the Life Flow, you will face the even... unavoidably? Perhaps... Tashi (Shawn Ku)is a consecrated Lama that has been in the yoghi experience of Samadhi Meditation (Fullest Consciousness) during three years, three months, three weeks, three days... A little bit to much for his Master's criteria but the Disciple wanted to test himself till the very limits of his own potential. Recognized as a Khenpo (a title of tibetan scholastic mastery), some further and higher Initiation will be bestowed on him by the Highest Rimpocheh nearby. However, there is some other experience he has never faced till then: the awakening of his own sexuality and the relationship with the key of human gender, the woman! Therefore this new step will be postponed and replaced by his own decision's sake. As a layman, the Lama he used to be is almost gone. As a husband, he shows the main aspect of any other man of his condition. As a father, he forgets to be the one closest to his own child and... once more: he ran away. Finally, Tashi has to face the reality of Maya & Samsara, the value of the Teachings inside the Dharma from his Master and the higher spiritual level of his wife, the beautiful & convincing Pema (Christy Chung). After listening to her, there are very few subsisting doubts concerning the equal rights for both women & men to obtain the Buddhahood. This is the kind of movie one can see and watch time after time, just to check oneself's evolving... And to enjoy a very nice soundtrack with the exotic melodies of the dialogues in Tibetan Languages. Please, don't loose it!!

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18 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Sex and Spirituality

10/10
Author: John Foster from Australia
27 May 2005

'Samsara' tells the story of Tashi, a young Tibetan Buddhist monk, who renounces monastic life in favour of a relationship with a beautiful young woman named Pema. Together they have a child and as the story unfolds Tashi's life in the material world becomes increasingly complex and difficult.

The movie successfully captures the difference between the contemplative life of a Buddhist monk, and the worldly life of a husband. This is most clearly shown in the stark contrast between the opening sequence of the movie, where Tashi is in a long meditation retreat, and the sensual sex scenes later on.

The majestic landscapes of Ladakh, one of India's most remote regions, provide a pristine Himalayan backdrop. And the original soundtrack and chanting is haunting at times.

The movie has English sub-titles and moves along quite slowly with limited dialogue and many pregnant pauses. This may be disconcerting for some viewers, but to me this reflective mood seemed appropriate for the subject-matter.

'Samsara' could be said to build on the groundwork provided by popular movies such as 'Seven Years in Tibet' and 'Kundun', to provide a more authentic and detailed portrayal of the vicissitudes of life and culture in central Asia. (If you enjoy 'Samsara' you may also like 'The Cup'.) This award-winning movie can only enhance a growing interest in Tibetan Buddhism in the West.

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16 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely Exceptional!

10/10
Author: poo-sharma from Mumbai
2 April 2006

I am not a festival buff, to kill the scorching heat I walked into Imax Multiplexes in Mumbai, discovered that there is a festival going on. I read about all the films programmed -one appealed to me the most was SAMSARA. Great luck, show was on in an hour. When I came out of the hall, my heart and mind were blown. I know nothing about this film and where it came from but wow what a discovery! I surfed net to find out more. Second shock came soon after when I discovered that it is made by an Indian Filmmaker based in Paris (and in India). Pan Nalin, never ever heard about him? My mind started wondering we talk about our Blacks and Devadas and Parineeta's and Pahelis -but what about this masterpiece? Isn't it pity that such films were distributed worldwide, millions saw it but no release in India? Is Mr. Ghai, Mr. Chopra are you listening? Indian medias wake up, Samsara is a sign! Here is a film and a director which India should be proud of!

The film is truly an eye opener what India can do to play a vital role in international cinema. So many loud talks about crossovers and here is a whisper called Samsara and that is truly a crossover. I will eagerly wait for Pan Nalin's other films: Ayurveda:Art of Being, Valley of Flowers...

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