7.7/10
302
5 user 15 critic

Ram Dass, Fierce Grace (2001)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 21 May 2001 (USA)
After Richard Alpert was fired from Harvard in 1963 for conducting psychedelic drug research, he journeyed to India, found a guru and was renamed Ram Dass ("Servant of God"). Soon, Ram Dass... See full summary »

Director:

Reviews

Watch Now

With Prime Video

WATCH NOW
ON DISC
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Kumaré (2011)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A documentary about a man who impersonates a wise Indian Guru and builds a following in Arizona. At the height of his popularity, the Guru Kumaré must reveal his true identity to his disciples and unveil his greatest teaching of all.

Director: Vikram Gandhi
Stars: Vikram Gandhi, Toby, Greg
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

There is one vibratory field that connects all things. It has been called Akasha, Logos, the primordial OM, the music of the spheres, the Higgs field, dark energy, and a thousand other ... See full summary »

Director: Daniel Schmidt
Stars: Patrick Sweeney
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Unique biopic about Yogananda, author of The Autobiography of a Yogi. In the 1920s, he brought Hindu spirituality to the West. This tells the story of his life and influence on yoga, ... See full summary »

Directors: Paola di Florio, Lisa Leeman
Stars: George Harrison, Anupam Kher, Reed Rudy
Documentary | History | News
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A stylish, in depth look at the renaissance in psychedelic drug research in light of current scientific, medical and cultural knowledge. The film explores these socially taboo substances as... See full summary »

Director: Oliver Hockenhull
Stars: William S. Burroughs, Wade Davis, Rick Doblin
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Dying to Know is an intimate portrait celebrating two very complex controversial characters in an epic friendship that shaped a generation. In the early 1960s Harvard psychology professors ... See full summary »

Director: Gay Dillingham
Stars: John Perry Barlow, Dean Chamberlain, Ram Dass
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

East meets West in the Deep South. An overcrowded maximum-security prison-the end of the line in Alabama's correctional system-is dramatically changed by the influence of an ancient ... See full summary »

Directors: Andrew Kukura, Jenny Phillips, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Grady Bankhead, Ron Cavanaugh, Jonathan Crowley
Kymatica (2009)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

We may be quick to blame secret organizations, greedy corporations and corrupt politicians for the state of the environment and economy. The harsh truth is that the world is in its current ... See full summary »

Director: Benjamin Stewart
Stars: Bruce Lipton, Henrik Palmgren
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Ayurveda is science of life and art of healing; where body, mind and spirit are given equal importance. This voyage of thousands of miles across India and abroad takes you on a unique ... See full summary »

Director: Pan Nalin
Stars: Nicolos Kostopoulos, Vaidya Narayan Murthy, Brahmanand Swamigal
Amongst White Clouds (Video 2005)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A journey exploring the practices of Chinese hermits living in the Zhongnan Mountains.

Director: Edward A. Burger
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

From The Big Bang to The Monetary System, Religion, Human Behaviour, War or Slavery, to a new Global Social System, TROM Documentary tries to analyze the world we live in.

Stars: George Carlin, Richard Dawkins, Aubrey de Grey
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

This highly controversial documentary explores the relationship between, Spirituality, Religion, and Psychedelics. Lead by "Zappy" Zapolin, the film explores the many myths about reality, ... See full summary »

Directors: Laurent Levy, Mike Zapolin
Stars: Tim Booth, Deepak Chopra, Peter Coyote
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An investigation into the long-obscured mystery of dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a molecule found in nearly every living organism and considered the most potent psychedelic on Earth.

Director: Mitch Schultz
Stars: Joe Rogan, Ralph Abraham, Joel Bakst
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
...
Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
William Alpert ...
Himself
Larry Brilliant ...
Himself
Bhagavan Das ...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Mark Matousek ...
Himself
Abby Reyes ...
Herself
Hugh Romney ...
Himself (as Wavy Gravy)
Rosemary Woodruff Leary ...
Herself
Edit

Storyline

After Richard Alpert was fired from Harvard in 1963 for conducting psychedelic drug research, he journeyed to India, found a guru and was renamed Ram Dass ("Servant of God"). Soon, Ram Dass became a spiritual inspiration to people across the globe. Interspersing archival footage with intimate glimpses of Ram Dass today, RAM DASS FIERCE GRACE is a poignant meditation on hippiedom and spirituality.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

As Here As He Ever Was

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

Not Rated
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 May 2001 (USA)  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$1,740 (USA) (21 April 2002)

Gross:

$236,103 (USA) (29 September 2002)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Soundtracks

Rachel
Written by Matthias Gohl as Teese Gohl
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Poorly constructed, but totally worth the price of admission
20 April 2004 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

Ram Dass has been an important spiritual teacher for almost 40 years, bringing Eastern wisdom to the West, most significantly with his seminal book BE HERE NOW. In 2000 (or maybe 1999?) he had a stroke, and this documentary focuses on his recovery from the stroke and his dealing with the consequences of that, and how he has incorporated that into his spirituality.

As a documentary, Fierce Grace is poorly constructed. It leaves huge gaps. We learn how Richard Alpert, Harvard professor, meets Timothy Leary (who had the Harvard office next door) and becomes part of the mind experiments of the 60s, and how that led him to India and the Maharaji. When Ram Dass returns to the States, we see a brief flash of a poster of "Baba Ram Dass" and then interviews with his family talking about the hundreds of people who came to see him and learn from him. There is a fairly large and jarring gap here, as we have no idea how these people knew about him; the movie doesn't describe his teaching, his publishing, his recording, or give any hint except that suddenly he was somehow famous. It assumes viewers know, I guess, except that doesn't make for good storytelling.

This is one example of numerous odd gaps in the narrative. Nothing of Ram Dass's personal life post-India is told until his stroke 40 years later. It's as if he lived in a bubble. There are good ways of skipping a bunch of decades and details but I don't think the filmmaker found them.

I am also bothered by the way that the movie spent more time telling us that Ram Dass had wisdom and teachings than actually showing us. The two best scenes are when we hear his actual teaching. In the movie's best moment (which is TOTALLY worth the price of admission), a couple who have survived a terrible tragedy read the letter that Ram Dass wrote them. In that letter was more wisdom and profundity than many people will hear in a lifetime. Towards the end of the film, we see Ram Dass personally counseling someone who has endured a great tragedy, and again, we are profoundly moved. But in between, there is little of Ram Dass's wisdom. Over and over he says he has learned a great teaching from his stroke, but just as he opens his mouth to describe it, the camera cuts away. If I hadn't seen Ram Dass personally, twice, I would not know that he was a great teacher. The movie describes the intense loss Ram Dass went through, going from a witty, clever, verbally deft teacher to a verbally faltering person struggling with neurological limitations, but there isn't a single clip showing his verbal deftness, and I'm sure such clips must be available. I found it very frustrating to be in the presence of this great man and have his greatness kept off-camera about 80 percent of the time.

Again, the remaining 20 percent makes the film totally worth watching, and it's not like I can direct you to some other documentary about him instead. 7/10


12 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page