Originally released in the late ’70s (the full title is ‘Tibet: A Buddhist Trilogy’), when it found considerable arthouse success, this exploration/celebration of Tibetan Buddhism has been digitally remastered, re-edited (it’s now somewhat shorter, despite the addition of fresh footage) and given a new commentary. But it remains a very rigorous work, even rather demanding in the central section where to all intents and purposes we simply observe monks in Nepal conducting an ancient ritual and joining in prayer. The first part, showing the Dalai Lama at his residence in north India, and the third, a contemplation of the relationship between life and death, which includes footage of a funeral and a cremation, are likely to be more immediately involving for those unfamiliar with the details of Buddhist practice and thought.The camerawork – by producer David Lascelles – does ample justice both to the landscape and to the monasteries, making the most of the unprecedented access granted to the crew. A valuable document, then, but also an unusually ambitious account of a complex faith and philosophy.
Friday October 7 2005