Kundun (1997)

Phillip Glass’ phenomenal score, Roger Deakins’ gorgeous cinematography, the captivating colours and aesthetic – everything makes for a pretty hypnotic experience, in Scorsese’s “Kundun”, covering the early years of the fourteenth Dalai Lama’s life.

Scorsese only used non-actors for the cast, but I truly did not notice until looking the film up after viewing it. It lent an air of authenticity, but the performances never felt unprofessional, so Scorsese seemed to have his cake and eat it too in that regard.

Scorsese’s deep, earnest interest in religion and spirituality bleeds through, but I don’t feel any greater “point” of his behind the movie, just a more general desire to tell the story of the current Dalai Lama. Whether that was the intention, or Scorsese was too subtle (or I too blind) to pick up on a greater thematic point, is unknown to me. The depiction of political movements in the film felt more like attempts at accuracy than interpretation, to me.

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It’s an exceedingly well-crafted film that is intoxicating at times, but the pace is often overly languid, and the structure too abruptly episodic at times. I give it three eggs, and some pork.

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