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Movie Review - Kundun

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Erin Tanguay
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Movie Review - Kundun

This was a sad yet beautifully told story of the life and forced exile of the 14th Dalai Lama. This film was produced in 1997 and is available on YouTube as a full movie. This movie is 2 hours and 14 minutes in length, therefore it is probably not recommended to show the entire movie in a classroom setting. This film is based on the life of Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama) of Tibet. The film begins with the search for the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. This would be an interesting section to show students in 6th or 7th grade history classes who are learning about Buddhism and reincarnation. The film depicts monastery life and the coming of age of the Dalai Lama as a political and spiritual leader. For those teaching about China during the Mao Zedong period, there is a great section when the Dalai Lama flies to Peking to meet him and after listening to the concepts of Socialism the Dalai Lama believes that it shares many attributes with Buddhism. However, before his visit comes to an end Mao privately tells him that religion is a “poison” and all of Tibet has been poisoned and it is China who has come to liberate the Tibetans and bring them back to the “Motherland.” There are some sections of the movie that are too violent for middle schoolers and I highly recommend that you preview it before showing this to your students. The movie is rated PG13.