The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:48 am

TheDhamma wrote:I'm still hoping for a good feature length film on the life of Buddha, but it doesn't look like this is happening soon. I can't find any updates from this old story:

http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php ... 60,0,0,1,0

:popcorn:


Check this out, after about 5 years of talk, it appears it may actually happen?

http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php ... 69,0,0,1,0
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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby Jechbi » Mon Jun 15, 2009 5:39 am

Starring Brad Pitt?

Then there's this.
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But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Jun 15, 2009 9:42 pm

Jechbi wrote:Then there's this.


Some Thais have also produced an animated life of the Buddha movie (I think it came out at the start of last year). I haven't seen it myself, but my friend Eisel Mazard gave it one of his characteristically caustic reviews

    Several days ago, I saw the "major motion picture" titled _The Life of Buddha_ --a Thai-made cartoon, that will doubtless define many of the assumptions about the historical Buddha for some time to come (at least within Thailand, if not beyond, as English-translation DVDs are available).

    Precisely because the film is regarded as an attempt to portray the historical Buddha, its wildly unhistorical character is difficult to behold without a wince.

    Textual scholars will immediately recognize the events as hastily cobbled together from Ashvaghosa and the Lalitavastra --viz., non-Pali, non-Theravada, Sanskrit sources (now considered "Mahayana").

    Thus, while the source material selected is fundamentally alien to the tradition of Buddhism in Thailand, the film-makers have attempted to impose "Thai" elements in a manner both artless and anachronistic.

    Perhaps the most striking example: they depict Devadatta reading Pali from a manuscript written in Khom (classical Cambodian) orthography! Here is ancient Cambodia written into ancient India (with the ocean and the passage of over a thousand years that separates the two simply smeared). Perhaps more disturbing: the Buddha's followers are depicted as exclusively male, with no female monastics of any kind --apparently just to avoid Thai discomfort on this issue (currently it is illegal for female renunciates to beg with bowl in Thailand, and charges are pressed on this from time to time, to keep the women "in their place" in the modern Thai notion of Buddhism --notwithstanding what the historical Buddha taught, or that he had female renunciates as disciples, etc.).

    A long cataloge of such historical errors could be provided --and, presumably, somebody in a department of cultural studies will do so eventually.

    As with many modern attempts to re-tell the life of the Buddha (even in contemporary Sri Lanka), the main defects of the narrative are:
    (1) the focus is almost exclusively on "magical" events surrounding the birth, childhood, and death of the Buddha --viz., omitting the actual philosophy and adult life that made the historical figure worth remembering in the first place,
    (2) instead of philosophic debate, the Buddha is simply depicted traversing the countryside of India to perform banal miracles (e.g., fighting a magic snake, making it rain indoors, etc.) to "win" the "faith" of converts --and this is both fundamentally boring to behold, and wildly extraneous to any reason (secular or religious) for respecting the historical Buddha or his teaching,
    (3) there is neither any interest in the social/historical reality that the Buddha spoke to (in India of his time), nor is there any interest in the social/historical reality that the audience now inhabits, and that the content of the film might address.

    Under heading #3, we could note that a Sri Lankan (or mainland Indian) film along the same lines would at least mention the existence of the caste system, and the Buddha's critique thereof; but not so for the Thais. It would also be easy to imagine some other film-maker having an interest in issues that vitiate modern Thailand, such as alcoholism, drug-addiction, prostitution, etc. --but this is purely "cloud-cuckoo-land" filmmaking.

    The film is garbage; however, the monks and laypeople that now step forward in praise of it (as an accurate depiction of the historical Buddha) do us a great favor in discrediting themselves.

    The same may well be said of the craze for "Jatukam" amulets in Thailand; it is as if the most corrupt had devised these as a means of having the worst elements of Thai monasticism identify themselves, at the same time convincing all the dunces to wear a sign around their necks in public to declare their own gullibility.

    The saddening question is this: will there ever be an interest in the historical material that the Pali suttas hold, such as might challenge the widespread assumptions built up from half-remembered legends of Ashavghosa, the Lalitavastra, and Jataka fables ("Wet-san-don", etc.)?

    In Thailand, the answer is "no". The Buddha they believe in shaved his head, and yet maintained a full head of hair. He evidently never said, wrote, or recited anything of philosophic significance, and is instead an object of worship simply on account of his (supposed) royal blood and conjurer's tricks.

    So far as the dramatist's art is concerned, I here recall Schopenhauer's comment on Dante's epic poems: the first (inferno) had a great deal of dramatic interest, the second (purgatory) less so, and then the last (paradise) was an utter bore, as it simply floated from one cloud to the next, with no suffering or conflict to provide dramatic interest. So too, here, the film-makers never considered that it might be an aesthetic mistake to delete suffering --not only because the Buddha's philosophy is (in some sense) "about" suffering, but also because drama (_per se_) requires suffering to satisfy the requirements of the stage. If we turn ancient India into paradise, and put a halo around all of the characters' heads, all that remains is for a bunch of figures to float around, making resounding declarations in echoing voices --viz., there is, strictly speaking, no plot.

    But ancient India was no such paradise, and the other parties the Buddha debated with (and preached) to provided much more than just mute astonishment before a haloed spectacle --they provided real opposition based on their own religious and philosophical views, and, moreover, they confronted him with real problems based on their own experience.

    There was (and is) "a point" and "a plot" to the Pali canon; and it's a shame that both the film-makers, and so much of the Thai audience, simply miss the point.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jun 15, 2009 9:55 pm

Dhammanando wrote:As with many modern attempts to re-tell the life of the Buddha (even in contemporary Sri Lanka), the main defects of the narrative are:
(1) the focus is almost exclusively on "magical" events surrounding the birth, childhood, and death of the Buddha --viz., omitting the actual philosophy and adult life that made the historical figure worth remembering in the first place,
(2) instead of philosophic debate, the Buddha is simply depicted traversing the countryside of India to perform banal miracles (e.g., fighting a magic snake, making it rain indoors, etc.) to "win" the "faith" of converts --and this is both fundamentally boring to behold, and wildly extraneous to any reason (secular or religious) for respecting the historical Buddha or his teaching,
(3) there is neither any interest in the social/historical reality that the Buddha spoke to (in India of his time), nor is there any interest in the social/historical reality that the audience now inhabits, and that the content of the film might address.

The film is garbage;

There was (and is) "a point" and "a plot" to the Pali canon; and it's a shame that both the film-makers,


I think the new movie based on Old Path White Clouds will be considerably different than these animated versions. TNH avoided most of the references to the magical and miraculous and focused on the greatness of the Buddha's philosophy and teachings.

Of course, most of us here who are pretty versed in the Suttas and historical India so I'm sure we will still find plenty of 'mistakes' and other inaccuracies with the new movie, when it comes out. :jedi: :thinking: :tongue:
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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby Guy » Thu Jun 18, 2009 3:55 am

tiltbillings wrote:And the obigatory listing of GROUNDHOG DAY

And a couple of others

O LUCKY MAN
FANNY AND ALEXANDER
KUNDUN
THE WICKER MAN
BLISS (1986 Australian film)
FISHER KING
ALL THAT JAZZ
THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING
MY DINNER WITH ANDRE
ALTERED STATES
THE ELEPHANT MAN
LITTLE BUDDHA
GANDHI
DARK CITY
ENGLIGHTENMENT GUARANTEED
WHY HAS BODHIDHARMA LEFT FOR THE EAST?
BARAKA
ECHOES OF ENLIGHTENMENT


I just watched "My Dinner With Andre" - it was great, thanks for the recommendation.
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1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jun 18, 2009 9:14 am

[quote="TheDhamma]
I think the new movie based on Old Path White Clouds will be considerably different than these animated versions. TNH avoided most of the references to the magical and miraculous and focused on the greatness of the Buddha's philosophy and teachings.

Of course, most of us here who are pretty versed in the Suttas and historical India so I'm sure we will still find plenty of 'mistakes' and other inaccuracies with the new movie, when it comes out. :jedi: :thinking: :tongue:[/quote]

If memory serves the maker was going to do a film version a while ago but it was very contraversial due to the planed layout or storyline it was going to have. but I think TNH does focus more on the philosophy & teachings than the godlyness (flobw) which can be found in certain Mahayana schools, although certainly it will be of a more Mahayana feel than Theravadan.

I have seen the cartoon, it was on youtube a while ago btw
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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby christopher::: » Fri Aug 28, 2009 10:05 pm

Hi all. Great list of films so far..!

How about "Sideways"- have any of you seen that? I felt there were similarities to "Groundhog Day"..

Also, I watched District 9 last week and thought about the dharma themes immediately. The alien scientist character "Christopher" seemed to have a better understanding of metta and karuna then most of the human characters. I watched an interview with the director, this seemed to be what he hoped to convey, how nonhuman beings may often act more "humanely" then humans.. The hero too, goes thru changes where metta, compassion and unselfishness are key themes.

:alien: :buddha1: :meditate:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Aug 29, 2009 12:26 am

christopher::: wrote:
The alien scientist character "Christopher" seemed to have a better understanding of metta and karuna then most of the human characters.


I knew it! You are an alien scientist then! Which planet??

:alien:
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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby christopher::: » Sat Aug 29, 2009 11:20 pm

TheDhamma wrote:
christopher::: wrote:
The alien scientist character "Christopher" seemed to have a better understanding of metta and karuna then most of the human characters.


I knew it! You are an alien scientist then! Which planet??

:alien:


ha ha ha...

Oh, another good one I watched recently, The Manchurian Candidate, 2004 version. I thought the tension between that free spark of goodness and kindness in the two main characters and the destructive "programming" they struggled with is kinda how samsara works, lol... The Manchurian organization and how it works in your head, creating mindlessness, kinda being like Mara... or maybe Madison avenue...

:tongue:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby Ben » Sat Aug 29, 2009 11:56 pm

Then again, one could always turn the TV off and go and meditate!
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby christopher::: » Sun Aug 30, 2009 12:02 am

Ben wrote:Then again, one could always turn the TV off and go and meditate!


Thanks Ben. I don't watch movies that often. If anything, its this damn computer that i realize i need to turn off more.

:namaste:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby Ben » Sun Aug 30, 2009 2:28 am

christopher::: wrote:
Ben wrote:Then again, one could always turn the TV off and go and meditate!


Thanks Ben. I don't watch movies that often. If anything, its this damn computer that i realize i need to turn off more.

:namaste:


Yeah, me too Chris! I have to remind myself that hanging out here is no substitute for actual meditative practice. What invariably happens is that I get can so absorbed with something or rather here that if I am not careful I find myself late at night too tired to sit. And as you know, as a moderator, sometimes its that little bit harder to extract oneself.
So, with anything, one must learn balance.
Kind regards

Ben
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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby christopher::: » Sun Aug 30, 2009 5:46 am

Indeed Ben, i know, exactly what you mean. :juggling: In that respect its been such a blessing to be "unemployed"...

:namaste:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby Jechbi » Sun Aug 30, 2009 5:57 am

Runaway Train.



Now I see you, house-builder!
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby nomad » Sun Aug 30, 2009 12:03 pm

Runaway Train was brilliant! A very Dhammatic piece of filmmaking!

~nomad

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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Nov 13, 2010 1:56 am

Bucket List

http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Bucket_List

As an admitted lover of lists, this is probably my favorite of all-time! :ugeek:
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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby Stephen K » Sat Nov 13, 2010 10:31 am

Last edited by Stephen K on Sat Nov 13, 2010 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby Hanzze » Sat Nov 13, 2010 10:34 am

Travellers And Magicians


Samsara


and one of the most important - Kung Fu - Panda :-)


I guess not of those films would break the precept of headless entertaining
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: The obligatory Dhamma themed movie thread

Postby beeblebrox » Sat May 21, 2011 5:39 pm

"The Nines," it's a very interesting movie (with Ryan Reynolds). The beginning seemed like it might be a bit lame, but the rest is good. This is not really a Dhamma movie, but reminded me of it.

:anjali:
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