Little Buddha, Kundun, and Seven Years in Tibet

Growing up our family enjoyed several local movies shot around the Pacific Northwest where we live. I wanted to bring attention to the under the radar film 1993’s “Little Buddha.” I like its unique take on a dual storyline structure. The scenes that are shot in Seattle are done in an extreme blue cold and cloudy feel. They work as a visual clue to which storyline you are currently in where the warmer Sunny scenes almost always take place in the East. (If you’ve seen 2000’s “Traffic” it also uses this technique a lot.) “The Scarecrow Movie Guide” described it as “showing Seattle in possibly its best light ever…”

It was directed by Bernardo Bertolucci whose “The Last Emperor” swept all nine Oscars in 1987. While I can understand why it did so well I find it odd that Little Buddha was nominated for a Razzie Award and not one Oscar. I don’t feel the quality between both films is so vast but are simply after different goals.

To me it is not necessarily a flaw that it doesn’t pack everything there is to say about this topic into one picture. The two movie in one format which is suited for “IKIRU” wouldn’t be nearly as effective here with too much ground to cover. That story’s style excels in its frantic ruminating on the meaning of life when at its end approach. The relative brevity of both halves of that movie work in its favor. It might have been interesting to see Little Buddha split into two parts like with Soderbergh’s excellent “CHE.”

Showing Seattle in possibly its best light ever…

The Scarecrow Movie Guide on Little Buddha

Scorsese’s 1997 “Kundun” made me think more than I had before about the merits of societies that mix politics and religion. Kundun is about what happens when a dominant religious society goes against the prevailing political uprising from People’s Republic of China. “Seven Years in Tibet” also touches on this although it’s more of an aside to the basic storyline. Little Buddha might be a better place to start as it takes place both in modern day and ancient times. I am glad we watched historical Indian films like the 1982 Gandhi movie in World History class. I just think some of these other titles would have been important to learn about as well. They are good to know especially in one’s formative years.