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Tibet: A Buddhist Trilogy (Unrated)

Re-Release Date: March 31st, 2006 (Quad Cinemas) by Thread Cross Films.
Original Release Date: June 8th, 1984.
Directed by Graham Coleman.
In Tibetan with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about spirituality in Tibet.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Re-cut and digitally re-mastered from its 4 hour version from 1984, Tibet is organized into three chapters. The first, The Dalai Lama, the Monasteries and The People , which wasn’t included in the original version, serves as an introductory to the Buddhist religion. Radiating the Fruit of the Truth gets more complex as it observes the behavior of lamas during their deep meditations, the construction of a cosmogram, as well as a ritual called “A Beautiful Ornament”. The Fields of the Senses , the final chapter, shows monks and farmers outside doing their daily activities while meditating. Writer/director Graham Coleman introduces each chapter as if it came from a large textbook. Similarly, much of Tibet feels like a textbook observation of Tibetan spirituality, although some of the images look quite striking. Instead of voice-over narration like in the old version, this new one has large yellow subtitles instead, which take away from the impact of the visuals. Even at 134 minutes, Tibet still feels too lengthy and moves at a slow pace as if it requires you to do some meditation throughout the film as well. Werner Herzog’s Wheel of Time is a much more accessible, engaging, and stylish documentary which covers much of the same territory.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: For those who know little or nothing about Tibetan spirituality, the first chapter will be sufficient enough to teach you what you need to know. The remaining two chapters go deeper into the spiritual rituals while actually showing them, but those with a basic knowledge of the material will be so bored that they won’t take away much from it. Conversely, those with already a strong interest in culture/religion and particularly in Tibetan spirituality will take away much more and even feel enlightened.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Distracting subtitles and many scenes drag.


IN A NUTSHELL: A meditative, enlightening journey into Tibetan spirituality! Strictly for those with a strong interest in this field—everyone else will be bored by the second and third chapters.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Those with a strong interest in Tibetan spirituality- Movie Theater (1st Run)
Everyone else- VHS/DVD

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