June 26, 2009

Unmistaken Message

A single paragraph in an LA Times review of Unmistaken Child reminded me that, more than a simple arthouse favorite, this film has broader implications in the world of Tibetan sovereignty issues.
For how the situation plays out in human terms in a society that believes in reincarnation – the way Westerners believe in gravity – is fascinating. It is a subject that is poised to have serious political repercussions with the Chinese government and Tibetans in exile likely to clash over the identity of the next reincarnated Dalai Lama.

The documentary tows you through a Tibetan disciple’s search for the rebirth of his revered master. It’s a beautiful and compelling narrative, but it can also be viewed as a legitimization of the selection process. In the longstanding faceoff between the Chinese government and Tibetan religious authorities, this film has the potential to be a marketing/propaganda tool to win over broader public opinion. (Although I wonder if it’s had any effect on all the blogtalk over Lama Tenzin Osel.) I’m not much of a believer, but I wonder what sort of reaction you’d get from launching this film with Chinese subtitles.

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