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Trailer for the movie of Nick Wilgus' book Mindfulness and Murder, showing in Thailand this April:

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I saw the final cut just before Mindfulness & Murder went on the festival circuit. Basically it's entertainment, but it does address Buddhist virtues a bit. Better than average acting from the cast, across the board.

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Do you notice that the Dalai Lama has a whole lot of books and movies out. No wonder pretty much everyone thinks he's the head Buddhist monk of the world. He does a good job promoting. :)

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First Buddha Film from Nepal

SUDESHNA SARKAR

KATHMANDU,July 12: Alarmed by Bollywood training its lenses on the Buddha, Tulsi Ghimire is now making the first Buddha film from the Himalayan republic to bolster its claim to the founder of Buddhism.

Ghimire, who moved from India’s hill town of Kalimpong to Mumbai first to learn acting and film-making and then made Kathmandu his home, has begun making “Gautam Buddha”, the first Buddha film from Nepal, the birthplace of the apostle of peace.

The 60-year-old, who gave the Nepali film industry such hits as “Kusume rumal” and “Balidaan”, says he was inspired to make the film after a conversation with Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka and other places.

“First, there was this Bollywood movie, ‘Chandni Chowk to China’, that claimed the Buddha was born in Nepal,” Ghimire told IANS in an interview. “Then there are reports of renowned Bollywood director Ashutosh Gowarikar making an epic film on the Buddha.

“We are concerned whether there isn’t some political motivation - to lay claim to the Buddha. If Gowarikar builds the sets of Kapilavastu, the kingdom in which the Buddha was born to its ruler King Shuddhodan, the Indian state where it is erected may be regarded by many people as the birthplace of the Buddha.

“Some puzzled Sri Lankan monks actually asked me whether the Buddha was born in India or Nepal. I told them, he was born in Kapilavastu, when neither India nor Nepal existed. Archaeological ruins prove Kapilavastu was in southern Nepal. You can still see the remains of the old palace and the garden where the Buddha was born.”

“Gautam Buddha”, to be dubbed in English, Hindi, Sinhalese, Korean, Chinese, Japanese and German, is going to be an animated film and the first animated feature film from Nepal.

“It would have cost far less had I chosen people to play the roles,” he says ruefully. “But I found that impossible.

The Buddha literature available details minutely the 32 auspicious signs Prince Siddharth possessed, that made him a king among men. He had arms that reached his knees, the large kindly eyes of a cow, and a voice as deep as an echoing well. I realised it would be impossible to find such an actor.”

Incidentally, Gowarikar is said to be on a manhunt to find the perfect face for his Buddha. “The Little Buddha”, the 1994 feature film made by Hollywood director Bernardo Bertolucci, obliquely presents the story of the Buddha and his quest for enlightenment, with Keanu Reaves playing the role.

Ghimire’s film will be ready by 2013. However, he has a sneak preview for the media in mind later this year when only a few scenes will be shown.

Ghimire says he read all the literature available on the Buddha that he could get, including Dr B.R. Ambedkar’s “The Buddha and his Dhamma”, and Indian vipassana guru S.N. Goenka’s writings about the Buddha and Buddhism.

“There are three schools detailing the Buddha’s life,” he says. “The Mahayana Buddhists chronicle a logically believable life while the Hinayana Buddhists depict Prince Siddharth as a reincarnation of god. The Vajrayana school, on the other hand, invests him with tantric powers.

“I have tried to adopt a middle path in my story-telling.”

Ghimire says his 110-minute film will explode some of the common myths about the Buddha, including the one that said the prince left the luxury of the palace in shock after he saw an old man, a sick man, a dead man and a monk.

“The prince was 29 when he renounced worldly life,” Ghimire explains. “It is therefore impossible that he didn’t come across any old man in that time. His own father must have been old at that time.

“Actually, he gave up all claims on his kingdom to avert a clan war as his infamous cousin Devdutta was gearing up for battle.”

His film, Ghimire hopes, will also bring into light the character of the prince’s wife, Yashodhara, of whom little is known.

“She was a pillar of support to her husband,” he says. “They had met before they were married and those scenes bring romance to the film.”

It is rather unusual to see an Indian director championing the cause of another country. Ghimire has a vey simple answer to that.

“I just want to present the facts,” he says.

Published on 2011-07-12 09:11:13

Source: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=33392

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How Critics Missed the Boat on Tree of Life - a Buddhist reading

By S. Brent Plate

Since watching Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life a few days ago I’ve been trailing my daughters: slowly, deliberately, unsure if I’m a cinematographer or a parent. In spite of my lifelong love of cinema (and teaching and publishing on the topic for the past decade plus), I rarely video-record my kids. Malick’s film did nothing to inspire me to press record, yet I can’t help seeing the joys and frustrations of my daughters through new goggles, some new cinematic lens that makes me both nostalgic and present, simultaneously. I’ve rediscovered a purposeful approach in my observations, a more meditative vision of the ways their hair bounces when they run and skip, the way their smiles broaden across their faces in the presence of ice cream, their desires to climb, to explore, to wonder.

Among other things it engenders, The Tree of Life magically (and I do not use that term lightly) re-imagines childhood as the nexus between paradise and fall, birth and death, lust and repression, violence and pacifism. And it re-imagines that innocent world through the lens of experience, through a knowing voiceover that constantly looks back with questions—however theologically pedestrian—about choices of good vs. evil, beneficence vs. malice, absence vs. presence. All of it is caught somewhere between the macrocosmos and microcosmos.

Two Paths

Most critics have noted the film’s early-on pronouncement of an either/or choice down life’s path: “There are two ways through life: the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow.” The father (the masculine force, disciplinarian, the god of justice) is pit in distinction to the mother (the feminine force, compassionate, the god of mercy). Marketers have exploited this dualism, and a promotional website for the film carries the title: twowaysthroughlife.com. Comments on the film (by critics and in the comment sections of major media outlets) typically ape this dualistic proclamation.

But as I watch my daughters play, in amiability and animosity alike, I realize The Tree of Life is not merely about parental spouses acting out nature and grace in divergence from their childrens’ lives. The film, and the reality of growing up, is also deeply about sibling relationships with each other, à la Cain and Abel, Mary and Martha, Flint and Little-Sprout, Helen and Clytemnestra, Jacob and Esau, Romulus and Remus, which is where so many critics and observers have got the film wrong. The Father-Mother choice is there, but Malick provides a way out of the bifurcation: the way of the brother. This does not exclude the nature-grace distinction, but wraps it up in another form. And in distinction to all those old myths in which the siblings rival, fight, and kill each other, Malick’s sibling is redeemed through the other.

Where was everyone in that crucial third (or fourth, its hard to tell) part of the film? Did they all drift off into naps, hypnotized by the lulling music? There was a third category, a synthesis, a Hegelian aufhebung, a middle way that was articulated in the narrative voiceover as that of the “brother.” The film is told primarily from Jack’s point of view, but it is his younger brother R.L. who becomes the glue to the weavings of stories.

Indeed, the first word of the film is “brother,” and that is set up before the “nature vs. grace” distinction. Further, the final words of the film are addressed to the brother as well: “Guide us, to the end of time.” (Note: he is not talking to God here.) This third chapter is not oriented parentally but fraternally, as Jack and R.L. explore the woods with BB gun in hand, tempting (and sometimes torturing) the other, finding forgiveness, and finding in a deep way what forgiveness actually is. It is R.L. who embodied the synthesis between nature and grace, father and mother. The sibling relation is central to the film.

Between Nature and Grace

By suggesting we see Tree of Life not in terms of a dualistic choice, but as a “middle way,” I also mean to trigger a Buddhist sensibility to the film that runs alongside the more overtly Christian one. There is no space to develop a full account of this here, but it is worth mentioning that a “Buddhist reading” is entirely plausible.

In fact, many of Malick’s films—in terms of cinematography, mise-en-scene, soundtrack, and editing—have much more in common with Korean Buddhist-themed films than they do with anything produced by his compatriots in Hollywood. I’m thinking here of Why has the Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? (Yong-Kyun Bae, 1989), Passage to Buddha (Sun-Woo Jang, 1994), and Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, … and Spring (Ki-Duk Kim, 2003), a list that could go on. Meditative images of minute dimensions of life meet soaring soundtracks, focusing the viewers’ attention on the often overlooked.

Beyond the style, I mention here one curious relation to the narrative of Buddhism’s origins. The Life of the Buddha tells of Siddhartha’s young existence as a prince, living in a kingdom of earthly delights. At one point in his life, he travels beyond the palace walls, and there has his “four visions.” He sees an old man, a sick man, a dead man, and an ascetic. These radically change his life, becoming the sparks that lead to the renunciation of his old life and begin his spiritual journey.

In Tree of Life, there are a couple key encapsulating scenes experienced by both Jack and R.L., and both scenes take place outside their own neighborhood. One day, as they walk through their downtown, they imitate drunken men stumbling out on the street, laughing as they go. And then they walk past a palsied man, crippling across the street. We half think (and fear) the boys might imitate him too, but they don’t. They are bewildered, and the image sinks into their minds.

The way the scene is shot makes it clear they are not being “polite” (as in having been previously told that “its not nice to make fun of other people”) but they are genuinely confronted with an image of something they can’t quite register based on past experiences. Another scene shows a boy who has drowned in the nearby public pool, his lifeless body laid on the side as the boys gaze on, clearly trying to make sense of it. No further comment is made.

To stretch this and suggest all four Buddhist visions are replicated in the film is too much, but these examples show how the imagery of suffering can have transformational value, as is intended in retelling the Life of the Buddha. These become part of the bundle of experiences that move the boys from innocence to experience. And in each scene, the boys seem to see in ways that none of the adults do.

In Praise of Middling

The film is disingenuous—or rather the marketing for it is. The ad campaign convinces us that there’s an either-or choice. Yes, there is the statement about choice in the beginning; between following nature or grace. But toward the end young Jack whispers, “Father, Mother, always you wrestle inside me. Always you will.” There is no triumph of one over the other. And a quick glance at the older Jack (Sean Penn, in his Houston glass-and-steel temple of a skyscraper) makes it clear that grace is not coming out on top.

One of the joys of being a parent is the chance to get back to the garden, to see the world anew, through the eyes of my children. Of course it’s never really or fully through their eyes, but only my eyes seeing through them. Like the life of a parent, Tree of Life offers a necessarily mature perspective, even if we are forced into that maturity kicking and screaming like a baby. It’s not about childhood, though it is that too. It’s not about choosing one side over the other, though the temptation is there. We parents/audience remain in the middle—in between microcosmos and macrocosmos, nature and grace, innocence and experience, childhood and adulthood.

---

S. Brent Plate

S. Brent Plate is visiting associate professor of religious studies at Hamilton College. His recent books include Religion and Film: Cinema and the Re-Creation of the World; Blasphemy: Art that Offends. With Jolyon Mitchell he co-edited The Religion and Film Reader. He is co-founder and managing editor of Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art, and Belief.

Source: http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/culture/4857/the_way_of_the_brother%3A_how_critics_missed_the_boat_on_tree_of_life

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I watched "Zen" yesterday, 2009 film by Takahashi Banmei, about the life of Dogen. Its a very powerful and affecting film. Sorry if its been mentioned here before, but I couldn't see it.

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I just watched "Spring. Summer. Autumn. Winter. And Spring", very fine film, and understood most of it until the last 20 minutes, the bit where a woman comes back with a child, and we don't see the woman's face because she covers it up with a purple scarf. And then at the end, the protagoanist attaches a stone to himself, clambers up the icy mountain slopes carrying a statue, and at the top of the mountain places the statue facing the temple on the lake where all the action has taken place.

So my questions are:

1) Who is the woman? (He supposedly murdered his wife, so is it his wife's sister, friend, mother, apparition?)

2) What is the statue he carries up the mountain at the end.

3) What is the significance of his final act? Is he hoping the statue will take care of his son better than he thinks he could?

4) And to finish, a really difficult one. What does the writing mean, that both he and his master put on the cloth when covering their faces before (attempting) to kill themselves?

A very fine karmic movie, just the last 20 minutes was a bit baffling for me. Easier to understand for Koreans I expect ..... but if anyone knows what was going on, please share :)

Oh and by the way, the Buddha ice sculpture moment is worth a dozen hollywood movies on its own!!

Edited by pete66

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There is a new documentary on a Finnish man who decides to become a monk, made by his sister who is a documentary film maker.

At this stage you need to request the link and the password to view it, more details at

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=8387&start=0&hilit=documentary

My brother, buddhist monk

Santeri decides to become a monk in Thailand and to give up everything he has in Finland. His sister and the director of the documentary Anja Ahola, wants to understand her brother’s great decision to leave behind his possessions, friends and family and to become an ascetic Buddhist monk for the rest of his life.

น้องชายในผ้าเหลือง

ซันเทอรี่ (อายุ 26 ปี) ตัดสินใจทิ้งทุกสิ่งทุกอย่่างในฟินแลนด์ เพื่อมาบวชเป็นพระที่ประเทศไทย และเพื่อที่จะทำความเข้าใจกับการตัดสินใจอันยิ่งใหญ่ที่จะสละทุกอย่างทางโลกไม่ว่าจะเป็นข้าวของเครื่องใช้ บ้าน เพื่อน และครอบครัว และเข้าสู่โลกทางธรรมในชีวิตที่เหลือ พี่สาวของซันเทอรี่จึงลงมือกำกับและถ่ายทำสารคดีชิ้นนี้ขึ้นมา

Veljeni Buddhalaismunkki

Santeri (26) päättää lähteä munkiksi Thaimaahan ja luopua kaikesta mitä hänellä on koti-Suomessa. Hänen siskonsa, dokumentin ohjaaja Anja Ahola, haluaa ymmärtää pikkuveljensä suurta ratkaisua jättää koko omaisuus, ystävät ja perhe sekä ryhtyä askeettiseksi buddhalaismunkiksi loppuelämäkseen.

Directed by Anja Ahola

Production, Ima Filbma- ja Sátneduodji and Anja Ahola

Duration, 28´45

PRIVATE USE ONLY.

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Nice film, bankei. Thanks for sharing the link with us.

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