One of Martin Scorcese's lesser known films is Kundun, the 1997 masterpiece about the life of the Dalai Lama.
Beautiful scenery, a compelling story, and terrific acting make Tibet jump off the screen, drawing the viewer into the religious and political situation of the times. At one stage it is a story about innocence, about a boy who has been thrust into a heavily demanding role and who must face the pressures of the worst of politics - Communist China. At another it is a biographical tale of the Dalai Lama and his struggles. And at yet another level it is about the corruption of modern society upon the simpler things in life.
Kundun tells the story of the Dalai Lama from the time when he is first found as a child to the moment where he escapes from Tibet as a young man. The progression of the actors is astounding; all of them do a wonderful job. Every actor fits the role perfectly, and they even look similar.
Scorsese, of course, is one of the most highly rated actors around, and he shows why with Kundun. Each scene is wonderfully shot, using color and especially light to enhance otherwise normal things. To top things off, the scenery is wonderful.
Kundun is a great film. It is one of those undiscovered gems that people might stumble across every once in a blue moon. It moves swiftly and steadily, is never boring, and has a good story to tell, a story worth hearing.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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