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Kundun [DVD] [1998]


Price: £4.30 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Kundun [DVD] [1998] + Seven Years In Tibet [DVD] [1997] + Tibet: Cry Of The Snow Lion [2003] [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Tenzin Thuthob Tsarong, Gyurme Tethong, Tulku Jamyang Kunga Tenzin, Tenzin Yeshi Paichang, Tencho Gyalpo
  • Directors: Martin Scorsese
  • Writers: Melissa Mathison
  • Producers: Barbara De Fina, Jeanne Stack, Laura Fattori, Melissa Mathison, Perry Santos
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Walt Disney Studios HE
  • DVD Release Date: 8 April 2002
  • Run Time: 129 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000634C3
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,040 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Martin Scorsese directs this epic based on the life of the present day Dalai Lama. In 1937 a monk roaming in Tibet proclaims that the two-year-old son of a rural family near the Chinese border is 'Kundun' - the reincarnation of the Buddha of Compassion, and next in line as Dalai Lama. The new Lama is instructed as to his new responsibilities, and moves to Lhasa, the capital. However, after being invested on his eighteenth birthday, the Lama is forced to reject a claim by China on Tibet. When China invades, the Lama retreats to a monastery for his own protection, but the Communists still pose a threat to both him and his country.

From Amazon.co.uk

It would be a mistake to call Kundun a disappointment, or a film that director Martin Scorsese was not equipped to create. Both statements may be true to some viewers, but they ignore the higher purpose of Scorsese's artistic intention and take away from a film that is by any definition unique. In chronicling the life of the 14th Dalai Lama, Kundun defies conventional narrative in favour of an episodic approach, presenting a sequential flow of events from the life of the young leader of Buddhist Tibet. From the moment he is recognised as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1937 to his exile from Tibet in the wake of China's invasion, the Dalai Lama is seen as an enlightened spiritual figurehead. This gives the film its tone of serenity and reverence but denies us the privilege of admiring the Dalai Lama as a fascinating human character. There is a sense of mild detachment between the film and its audience, but its visual richness offers ample compensation. In close collaboration with cinematographer Roger Deakins, Scorsese filmed Kundun with great pageantry and ritual, and meticulous attention to details of costume, colour and the casting of actual Buddhist monks in the scenes at the Dalai Lama's palace. Certain images will linger in the memory for a long time, such as the Dalai Lama's nightmarish vision of standing among hundreds of dead monks, their lives sacrificed in pacifist defiance of Chinese aggression. Is this a film you will want to watch repeatedly? Perhaps not. But as a political drama and an elegant gesture of devotion, Kundun is a film of great value and inspirational beauty--one, after all, that perhaps only Scorsese could have made. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By David Welsh on 16 April 2006
Format: DVD
This film is the story of the Dalai Lama, which takes us from the point of his discovery as a child to his arrival at the Indo-Tibetan border in 1959, about to begin his exile. It is a very well-made film all round, and evokes mid-20th century Tibet very convincingly and atmospherically. It even manages to avoid grossly misrepresenting Buddhism, which is quite an achievement for a Hollywood film. This is about as good a biographical film of the Dalai Lama as one could have hoped for, definitely worth watching.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By C. jones on 25 Nov. 2008
Format: DVD
I was very pleased to discover that this film wasnt the Scorcese dud some of the user comments and critics had suggested it to be. While I am no expert on Buddhism, I know enough about it to see how brilliantly Martin Scorcese and Melissa Mathison weaved the core philosophy into this tale of the Dalai Lama's formative years. They did it without succumbing to ostentation, sentimentality, or populist good vs evil film dramatics. And yet it showed us how human the child was--laughing as the monks meditated while a rat drank the ritual offerings; being frightened in the dark monastery; taking on the very great responsibility of leading a truly wise, noble and compassionate religion while being confronted by the threats of the modern world. I appreciated how they didnt portray the Chinese as simple villians--by including the scene where he dreams the army personnel are explaining to him why they embrace Mao's communism. And they also presented enough of the Buddhist ritual and way of life to show us how alien it is to western religions(the scene where they cut up the body for the vultures comes to mind), though they dont gloss it over by excluding comments about the Lama's isolation and loss of childhood or the corruption surrounding his first Regent. It was also quite moving to observe the devotion of his monks and people.

Scorcese really demonstrates here that he is a true film artist and master storyteller. I wholeheartedly concur with the commentator that compared this film to the Last Emperor--despite similar story frames and lengths, this motion picture doesnt drag at all. If this had been say, Steven Spielberg's project you would have expected to see some manipulative melodramatics and insincerity. And how can one not be impressed by the performances he got out of mostly non actors!
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME on 18 Jan. 2003
Format: VHS Tape
Kundun was buried upon its release- perhaps due to the introduction of capitalism to China, which saw the usual logos & people like Murdoch/Fox open up the "free market". Watching it, it is clear that it didn't have to soften it's depiction of China like Tomorrow Never Dies, but like the sappy thriller Red Corner (banned in China)it was poorly supported by the people who made it (though it did manage some token Oscar nominations).
This is such as shame, as there is much great about it- Scorsese always making the best film he could and only really disappointing with more conventional fare like The Color of Money & Cape Fear. As with Oliver Stone's Heaven & Earth, the public stayed away from this film- seeming to prefer watered down buddhist notions in stuff like The Matrix, The Phantom Menace etc...
It's as visually sumptuous as Scorsese's associate Paul Schrader's Mishima (1985)- which it reminds me of as that too had a score from Philip Glass (which sounds very close to Koyaanisqatsi at times, especially as one of the Dalai Lama's visions resembles a scene from Geoffrey Reggio's classic). You can see where people like Dante Ferretti came in- extending on the decadent epic veneer of The Age of Innocence, this is most definitely leading to much of the look of recent Scorsese classic Gangs of New York.
The screenplay, by Melissa Mathison (ET), is a little flat in parts- but I mostly gave myself over to the flow of the imagery & the fantastic cinematography of Roger Deakins. As many reviews note, the sequence that sees the Dalai Lama stand in a city of bodies of his people is one of the most potent in cinematic history (nice also to see Scorsese playing down the film references, though as with Mean Streets- we do get some movies the characters watch on screen).
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By S. Bobyk on 24 Dec. 2005
Format: DVD
Very good and unusual film. Absolutely unHollywood and probably not suitable for (sadly) vast majority of public. If you want mindless action, silly love plot with another sex bomb, stupid jokes, patriotic slogans, sugary happy end etc- forget about this movie. It is all about human spirit, devotion, peace and inner awakening. Beautiful scenes and authentic surroundings just add to it. My deepest respect to director for doing this movie for rather spiritual than financial reasons as it was never going to be an another blockbuster. Masterpiece but for somebody with heart, brain and conciousness only.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 April 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This film is amazing. It is a shame that so few people have seen it, but that just makes it all the more special.
I saw it at the cinema, then one boring Sunday night I rented it out to watch it again, this time with my mother. I tried not to tell her too much about it as I knew she would not be interested. When she saw it though she thought it was great. She often mentions 'that film about the little boy Dalai Lama'. She wasn't to keen about the mountain burials though ...
The cinematography, the costumes, the sets, the music, all of these contribute to a really special film. It is a shame that people will only turn out to a Scorsese film when it contains physical violence and / or the Mafia. This film is definitely one of his best. When is it coming out on widescreen?
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