Nine-year-old Jesse (Wiesendanger), son of Seattle teacher Fonda and architect Isaak is identified as a possible reincarnation of a Tibetan Buddhist lama. On a visit to their apartment, dying lama Norbu (the sympathetic Ying Ruocheng) gives Jesse a picture-book of the life of Siddhartha/Buddha and suggests a visit to his monastery. Facing bankruptcy, Jesse's father accepts, and on the subcontinent Jesse witnesses Siddhartha's cosmic battle to banish evil, the multi-form Lord Mara, and finds he is just one of three candidates from whom Norbu must choose. Bertolucci's epic is a disappointment. With its once-upon-a-time structure, it has the feeling of a beautiful but very expensive kids' movie, intercut with a '50s 'Scope sandal-saga. Reeves makes a pretty, exotic, bare-breasted icon as the damask-cloaked prince turned rasta-style ascetic. On a deeper level, the film seems not to be specifically about Buddha, but about resistance and acceptance, weirdly resolving itself into an confusing essay on the deification of children.