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Wheel of Time (2003)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 30 October 2003 (Germany)
Wheel of Time is Werner Herzog's photographed look at the largest Buddhist ritual in Bodh Gaya, India.

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Lama Lhundup Woeser ...
Himself
Takna Jigme Sangpo ...
Himself
Matthieu Ricard ...
Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Madhureeta Anand ...
Himself
Tenzin Dhargye ...
Himself
Ven. Geshe ...
Himself
...
Himself (voice)
Manfred Klell ...
Himself
Chungdak D. Koren ...
Himself
Thupten Tsering Mukhimsar ...
Himself
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Storyline

Wheel of Time is Werner Herzog's photographed look at the largest Buddhist ritual in Bodh Gaya, India.

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buddhist | See All (1) »

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Not Rated | See all certifications »
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30 October 2003 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Ajan pyörä  »

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

The Dalai Lama: All religions carry same message. Message of love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment, self-discipline. I think we need these qualities, irrespective of whether we are believer or non-believer, because these are the source of a happy life.
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User Reviews

Grand Tertön

Werner Herzog again.

This time he is in his mode of creation more by discovery than invention, and it pays off.

The raw material is striking by itself: vast numbers, ephemeral yearnings, trivial and essential rituals. Devotion in any endeavor is something we are drawn to, and there is plenty for our filmmaker to harvest.

The essential part of this film is Herzog as camera during a gathering in India, where a variety of consecrations are planned. Monks and devotees come, some by difficult and humbling means. 400,000 faces (all attempting calmness) are miraculously organized, assembled to be led by the supreme priest.

We see queues so orderly they could only exist among such beings, but anxious chaos when fighting for tossed goodies: dumplings and candies. We have zealots, order and peace.

Into this sails Herzog. The story is that he had been cajoled into filming the much smaller gathering in Austria. Austria! He was reluctant to do so, and after the film remains firm in his belief that Austrian Buddhists don't make much sense to him. But with this commitment, he traveled to the gathering in a sacred place in India near Nepal.

There he found a focus for his film in one of the rituals. Though it is presented as central to the gathering, it is only so in Herzog's vision. This holds that mysteries can be conveyed visually. The situation needs to support the vision, but the vision is the thing. It is not the symbol, the notation, the token, but the real thing. This is how he thinks of cinema and the way he presents the sand mandala carries this import.

The "Wheel of Time" is one translation of a sand painting made for this type of gathering, as perfected and maintained by one of the groups in Tibet. Mandalas are movies and intended for meditation, as a structure existing between and shared by the mind of insight and the real world of color and structure. There is much to be said of them and cinema, but Herzog only could film this one (and its copy in Austria) as it is being made with colored sand and exhibited as devotees are rushed past it.

He then went to Mount Kailash, Though this is a couple hundred miles away, he merges it seamlessly into the gathering of nearly half a million robed prayers. Here, he is able to make some magnificent images of the mountain, its waterways and the people ritualistically circumnavigating it. This is holiness he understands and the conflation of mountain and mandala works.

As usual, the music adds great power. I believe that henceforth, I will associate that music with this devotion, though there is no relation other than Herzog chose to build his mandala of these sounds, this extract of natural rock and water, and these people. They would not recognize their devotions as shown here. (And some of this is staged.) But for me, it is a window into something more holy than they worship.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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