CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 12
  • Biography, Drama
  • 1997
  • 128 mins

Kundun

Kundun

Synopsis

Scorcese swaps mooks for monks for a movie meditation on the early life of the 14th Dalai Lama and the non violent struggle of Tibet

About

Martin Scorsese sets himself the straightforward but epic task of telling the life story of Tenzin Gyatso from the moment, aged two, that he was recognised as the 14th reincarnation of the Dalai Lama to his exile from his native Tibet to India 26 years later in 1959.

The early stages of the film are reminiscent of The Last Emperor, telling the story of a young boy's graduation from mischievous scamp to wise adult - colourful, playful and light. The tone changes from joy to sorrow in the second half of the film when it documents the Chinese oppression of Tibet and the Dalai Lama's attempts to protect his people. Brilliantly filmed and hypnotically paced Kundun is an intriguing movie that despite dialogue that seems dumbed down at times does little to over dramatise real events to please cinema audiences. The weakest moments are those featuring Chinese leader Chairman Mao (Lin) - who comes across as a camp super villain rather than ruthless Communist dictator. A shame, after the wonderful acting of the four different actors playing the Dalai Lama at various ages (Paichang at two, Tenzin at five, Tethong at ten, Tsarong as an adult).

A challenging, thought provoking, mediative film that sits uncomfortably with Scorcese's previous work is helped no end by a superb score by Philip Glass. Kundun is rather like a visit to yoga class - it will leave you feeling slightly giddy and enlightened. The effect though is temporary - despite it's grandeur and fine intentions it's far too quiet to really grab the attention.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Tenzin Thuthob Tsarong, Gyatso Lukhang, Tulkma Jamyang Kunga Tenzin , Sonan Phuns, Gyurme Tethong, Robert Lin , Tencho Gyalpo, Tsewang Migyur Gyatso
  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Writer: Melissa Mathison
  • Producer: Barbara De Fina
  • Photographer: Roger Deakins
  • Composer: Philip Glass

In a nutshell

Verdict
Overly reverent but mesmerising biopic.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Just Wright

    Just Wright

    Queen Latifah plays a physical therapist falling for Common's recovering basketball pro in this romantic comedy

    On Film4: 27 Jul 1:00PM

  • Film4 Grand Central

    Grand Central

    Gary (Tahar Rahim) falls into both a job and a love-triangle at a nuclear power plant, as he develops a powerful attraction to the fiancee (Léa Seydoux) of his new boss

  • Film4 Betty Blue

    Betty Blue on Film4

    Béatrice Dalle stars as the beautiful and unpredictable Betty Blue in Jean-Jacques Beineix's romantic drama on Film4

  • Film4 Sleepy Hollow

    Sleepy Hollow on Film4

    Johnny Depp stars in Tim Burton's spooky tale about a man named Ichabod Crane who is sent to investigate decapitations being attributed to the legendary Headless Horseman

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share