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4.7 out of 5 stars18
4.7 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 27 September 2012
Werner Herzog is a funny bloke. He has made some extraordinarily and extraordinarily mad films - pulled boats over mountains in the jungle, managed to make films with Klaus Kinski and, one of my personal favourites, get shot during an interview and then dismiss it as "not a significant bullet" ([...])

He has also made some quite wonderful documentaries. Grizzly Man [2005] [DVD] is a simply wonderful exploration of the life and death of Timothy Treadwell, who spent his summers living with grizzly bears in Alaska. Before being killed by them. You should definitely watch that film.

Wheel of Time was shot in India and Tibet in 2002, to observe the Kalachakra initiation in Bodh Gaya. This is a very holy Bhuddist ceremony, during which hundreds of thousands of pilgrims descend to take part, and be blessed. And Herzog shows us the ceremony, the construction of the astonishing sand mandala at the heart of it. He meets the Dalai Lama.

But the best bits are the details and the insights into how people live and worship. He watches the monks as they serve lunch to tens of thousands of people. He observes the devoted as they prostrate themselves. And then he travels north, to Tibet, and Mount Kailash to witness the devotion of the faithful. He meets pilgrims who have made a journey of thousands of miles, prostrating themselves at each step. It is scarcely believeable.

Unlike many of his other films, this one is about observing. Most of the people he meets cannot speak English, so a lot of time is just spent watching. And I liked that - there is no story, no point being made - we are just allowed to watch. And it is fascinating.
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This film will be of special interest to you if you're a follower of the ways of Buddha, or if you want to see just how important the Dalai Lama is to them. Herzog finds himself in the midst of a huge wave of people from China, India, Thailand and other Buddhist countries who have travelled - in some cases thousands of miles on their hands and knees prostating themselves every third step - to Bodh Gaya in India, to observe the ritual of Kala Chakra, the Wheel of Time. This is a highly important moment in their calendar, which takes place irregularly once every three or four years.

The Wheel of Time is represented by a huge picture made painstakingly by monks from coloured sand, and is a map of sorts - a diagram of the internal end external regions of the universe and mind (I am not a follower, so this interpretation is based only on my viewing of this film). There's some lovely footage of the monks using little metal pourers as they laboriously put the sand in the right places, almost grain by grain.

Unfortunately, the Dalai Lama was too ill to conduct the ritual so he had to tell all those thousands of people that the ceremony was cancelled - you can imagine the disappointment! Stoical to the last, they don't complain. Instead he holds the ceremony in Graz, Austria the following year: a very different affair. It's interesting to contrast the east and west like this.

I'm a big fan of Werner, and I feel that he was unable to 'get inside' his subjects here like he usually does - they are simply too numerous, and he has difficulty in finding English speakers to converse with; as a result, his interaction with them is greatly reduced. We are left to spectate - and the sights are amazing - but the essential Werner magic was kept by necessity to a minimum, I feel.

My mother is a Buddhist, and I bought this for her in preperation for her attendance at the Dalai Lama's appearance at the Royal Albert Hall in June; it will serve as an appetiser for what she can look forward to - even though he is not in that much of the footage here, the significance of the man to huge numbers of the world's population is plain to see.
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on 26 November 2010
Through this unique documentary you will have the chance to witness the Kala Chakra (=wheel of time) ritual and to watch and feel the authentic spirituality and strength of the Tibetan people.
I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Buddhism, Tibet and Asia in general.
There are no subtitles, but the language is easy to understand even if English is not your mother tongue.
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on 3 November 2010
This is a very interesting reportage about the kalachakra ceremony both in India and in Austria. There is a very wide range of people attending the ceremony and it shows us what happens there with a window onto another part of Buddhism and pilgrimages in other parts of the country. Unfortunately there is very little shown about the Dalai Lama and I was a bit disappointed by it. But I loved the fact that we can ear the people there speaking their own language. I also found that the cameraman was very cheeky and he played too much at making people feel very uneasy by blocking the camera on some particular characters for far too long (I wouldn't have been surprised if someone had eventually punched him!), he was lucky that Buddhists are pacific. All around a good documentary, but don't expect much in the teachings of the Dali Lama. In general this is ok for a very general overview of this ceremony. It is also interesting to see the trumendous gap from India and Austria. It makes me admire even more the Dalai Lama for his facility to blend into both world.
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on 5 September 2013
A great film showing the love and great tenderness in which the Dalai Llama is held by his followers. Unforgettable accounts of
pilgrimages, stunning landscapes and a succinct account by the Dalai Llama of his hopes for the the world.
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on 17 February 2014
If can make a documentary to prove that faith can move mountains, this is it!!
I wait for more like this!
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on 17 October 2013
Watching this movie/documentary, a good feeling came over me, and enjoyed the movie very much.
It gives a good inside peek of being a Tibetan Buddhist.
Absolutely a must see movie.
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on 22 April 2015
This was purchased as a gift , and our friend was delighted with it. We have watched the dvd previously and were enthralled by it - inspiring !!

Would most definitely recommend.
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VINE VOICEon 31 May 2010
German filmmaker Werner Herzog as usual is exceptional at film and captures everyday life of Buddhists on their pilgrimage to Bhod Gaya. We concentrate on the 12 day Kalachakra initiation. For those familiar with Buddha you recognize Bhod Gaya as the location where the Buddha attained enlightenment.

There is great background music much of it sounds a little more Hindu. However, we do hear some well-known chants. Occasionally there is conversation with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. In addition, get a glimpse of a few people mugging for the camera.

All in all this film is worth watching but does not give any real insight or surprises.

Little Buddha
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on 15 November 2013
Beautiful to listen to and makes one think about the good and bad in the world. What a beautiful person inside and out the Dalai Lama is
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