This was one of the DVDs that John chose for Queen's Birthday Weekend viewing.
It is a simple story about a Tibetan monastery in exile, and its soccer loving young monks. The story is set in 1998 during the World Cup.
Two young boys are smuggled out of Tibet to the monastery for a traditional Buddhist education. They are given a room to share with the most soccer mad of the young monks, Orgyen. The youngest boy is homesick and pining for his mother, while the older makes an attempt to adjust to life outside of Tibet, by getting involved with the highjinks of his roommate.
It is a very sedately told tale. For those of us who are used to fast-paced, complex (or maybe confusingly written) storylines in our films this movie certainly slides into the boring zone.
That is not necessarily a bad thing. It has made me question my need for complexity. Do I really need to have a twist to every story? Do I really need to be kept guessing? Does everything have to be over in a nanosecond? Do I have to be challenged by everything I see or read?
Perhaps slowing down, taking time to appreciate things, and seeing value in simplicity is a good thing.
As the director himself says:
"I would like my stories to be moment-to-moment dramas," he explains, "Life is filled with so many dramas, but we tend to lose out the tastes and textures in our quest for speed and purpose."
Just a few observations about this film:
- There are definitely Buddhist lessons to be taken from this film, if you choose to look for them.
- Orgyen is a selfish, self-centred young monk – don't expect to like him too much. (Although the portrayal is very endearing, especially once his goal is reached.)
- Spoken Tibetan is a very interesting sounding language, quite unlike any other that I am familiar with.
- It is interesting to see tradition attempting to co-exist alongside modernity. Television in a monastery? What next?
- The cast of actors are very much who they appear to be on film. Visit the offical website and see what I mean.
And, if you are feeling so inclined, take a wander over to the Tibetan Government In Exile's webpage to get their point of view on who is and who isn't supposed to be a part of greater China.