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
The 14th Dalai Lama took his position as the head of Tibet on 17th November 1950. On this day director Martin Scorcsese was celebrating his Eighth Birthday. On this day Kundun assumed full temporal (political) power after China's invasion of Tibet in 1949 (Iron-Tiger Year, 10th month, 11th day) See more »
(at around 54 mins) The Dalai Lama asks Phalu if they can seek India's help, and Phalu says that India is a new independent country still struggling. In the next shot, it is 5 years later, 1949. This means that the previous shot took place in 1944, while India was still under British rule. India got its independence on August 15, 1947, three years after Dalai Lama asks for India's help. See more »
You can tell that "Kundun" was a Martin Scorsese pet project, a story he really wanted to bring to the big screen. A film about a holy man and peaceful resistance is not your standard commercial fare, but this film visually stunning and emotionally poignant. Throw in the intriguing Philip Glass score and you have quick a sensory experience.
Scorsese took a brilliant approach to this film in many ways:
-- Casting unknown actors: the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people are unpretentious themselves, casting any names in the part would not only be ethnically sacrilegious, but would have missed the point. -- When they couldn't film in Tibet, they filmed in Morocco. Yet they picked terrific locations that definitely suggest the highest plateau in the world. -- Their use of color and movement is stunning. The cinematography is beautiful, the awards this film received for this are well deserved.
The only issue I had with the film were the dreamlike episodes towards the end. The film would have been more powerful if they showed some of Mao's tyranny, instead of suggesting it through dream sequences (see "The Killing Fields" for how this can be done).
Otherwise, this is a cerebral piece, not an action piece. If you can get by this, and watch it during the daytime so you don't fall asleep during the boring bits, it's a very good film.
8 out of 10
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