Release Date: June 15th, 2005 (NYC-Film Forum)
Directed by Werner Herzog.
BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about the Buddhist pilgrimage and other Buddhist traditions.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: There are many colorful elements within this film, both literally and figuratively. Literally, the titular wheel of time itself is part of a design that is intricate with many bright colors. It takes very skilled, focus individuals to fill this circular design with colored sand and, not surprisingly, it is sealed in a glass case so that nobody can even breathe on it. Only the Dalai Lama can destroy it. Figuratively, the many Buddhists interviewed are quite colorful characters--they love life and it certainly shows with their energy. The pilgrimage itself is a wonder and mystery of its own, especially with the kind of suffering that they must endure throughout it. The suffering includes hunger, thirst, and extreme forms of exercise--some even die during their journey. Thanks to Werner Herzog's beautiful cinematography and expert editing, it is very easy to immerse oneself in this thoroughly entertaining film.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Obviously, because of the spirituality behind the pilgrimage, this film provides a lot of insight. In an interview with the Dalai Lama himself, he says that the center of the universe is in oneself. He also says that harmony--everyone being equal--is essential for world peace. There is one scene that shows a tremendous act of kindness as a Buddhist gives money to many poor people. Generosity, harmony, and tranquility are just some of the many virtues that the Buddhist tradition teaches and it is uplifting to watch them celebrate it in this documentary.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 1
THE BOTTOM LINE: A thoroughly engaging and insightful documentary about a very spiritual culture that teaches very important lessons in leading a peaceful, happy life. Werner Herzog remains the best documentary filmmaker alive today who isn't full of himself like Michael Moore.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)
The "W" Menu