Release Date: August 31st, 2007 (Village East Cinemas) by Monterey Media.
Directed by Rick Ray.
BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about Tenzin Gyatso, a.k.a. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, as he answers 10 questions in a 45 minute interview.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This mildly fascinating, yet unfocused documentary functions best as an introduction to the His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of, including his beliefs and history. Director Rick Ray travels to Tibet hoping to get an interview with the 14th Dalai Lama. It takes a while before the Dalai Lama actually comes onscreen for the interview because, in the meantime, Ray gives a history lesson of the Buddha and then compares him to how the 14th Dalai Lama got his title after coming from a poor family. Anyone from any class can become the Dalai Lama, as long as they seem like the reincarnation of the last one. A secret group of men travel all around the country to search for this reincarnation. In order to get the interview, all Ray has to do is to email him and, soon enough, he gets invited for a 45-minute interview. It turns out that the Dalai Lama can easily kick anyone during the interview as long as he sees fit, so Ray must be sure to ask the best questions. It’s quite surprising how non-intimidating he seems once he meets him. Unfortunately, not all of the 10 questions are provocative or compelling enough—the first question, regarding why the poor are happier with so little belongings and the rich are sadden with so many belongings, is more of a rhetorical question, especially for those familiar with Buddhism. Ray also asks him how Buddhists should adapt to modern technology and if there’s any hope to the Middle East crisis—both important and timely questions, but very loaded ones at that. Each question deserves a documentary of its own; the answers here seem more like reader’s digest version. It would have been more interesting if Ray focused on asking questions about one particular topic rather than so many and perhaps even synthesized the answers in a third section of the film once he returned to America. Nonetheless, at a running time of 85 minutes, 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama never drags or overstays its welcome—if anything, it understays its welcome.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Among all the 14th Dalai Lama’s messages about being tolerant, peaceful, loving, kind and self-disciplined, the greatest message, which he implies more than explicitly discusses, is the importance of laugher. He genuinely laughs at a lot of things in life including at himself. If only everyone could lighten up a bit like him, perhaps it would decrease the number of ant-depressants sold in America. Most importantly, listening to 14th Dalai Lama inspires you to live a meaningful, happy life.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Slightly unfocused.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 1
IN A NUTSHELL: Mildly fascinating and inspiring, but slightly unfocused with too many loaded questions and answers.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: DVD
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