The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet's Struggle for Freedom

Film
3 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Give or take a few days, this week marks the 51st anniversary of an extraordinary escape: Under cover of a dust storm and dressed in the garb of a common rifleman, Tibet’s Dalai Lama fled his ancient palace and trekked—with CIA assistance—into northern India. (The Bond-worthy crossing made the cover of Time.) Since then, the Lama’s government has been in exile, and support for his cause has blossomed worldwide.

The Sun Behind the Clouds, a status report from husband-and-wife duo Tenzing Sonam and Ritu Sarin, pays little attention to this gripping backstory, instead focusing on the fractured strategies of modern-day Tibetans. Much has happened in recent years: a landmark March 2008 protest against the Chinese government; public outcry over the Beijing Olympics; and, most troublingly, increased doubt among young activists over the Dalai Lama himself—and his proposed “middle way” of cultural autonomy within China, but at the cost of independence.

The doc dutifully allows for these varying viewpoints, but in a mode that’s not especially captivating, despite a guitar score by Brokeback Mountain’s Gustavo Santaolalla. Such controversies deserve to be discussed in the epic sweep of a modernizing China and the stubborn Himalayas. Returning to Bernardo Bertolucci’s devastating The Last Emperor might be a better way to honor the occasion.—Joshua Rothkopf

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