The over-obsessed theme of worship and religion is once again explored by Martin Scorsese in the 1997 film, Kundun. The film features the true story of the 14th reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, the exiled political and spiritual leader of Tibet. Beginning in 1937, Scorsese focuses on a two-year-old boy destined as the Buddha of Compassion, coming to terms with being the chosen His Holiness, “Kundun” and the leader of his people. Played by actual relatives of the real Dalai Lama, the film follows the young prophet through early adulthood. Facing the Chinese invasion of Tibet, the Dalai Lama is forced to exile into the country of India, where he still remains to date.
Prior to the viewing of Kundun, the only information of the Dalia Lama I was aware of came from Bill Murray in the 1980 film, Caddyshack (Click here to view Bill Murray’s scene). So not a great source! Scorsese gives a fantastic effort in illustrating and sharing the religious system, beliefs, and praise of the Dalia Lama through the perspective of the Tibetan people. Just like the many films before, Scorsese has mastered the perspective switch in Kundun and lets the audience into a new world to be experienced.
However, the film lacks drama… yes, the story follows a “three-act” narrative structure with the third act being the most exciting. Act one and two DRAG ON, making Kundun one of Scorsese’s least rewatchable films. The cinematography, done by visionary Roger Deakins, is the best part of the film, possibly some of the best visuals seen in a Scorsese film. In addition, the impressive original score, composed by Philip Glass, also strongly carries the film. Without these two elements, Kundun would most likely reach close to the bottom of Scorsese’s filmography.
Story/Plot – 15/20 Direction – 17/20 Acting - 14/20
Cinematography – 18/20 Score/Soundtrack – 17/20
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