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USA 1997
Directed by
Martin Scorsese
134 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars


With its stunningly picturesque cinematography by Roger Deakins, gorgeous costumes, extended sequences of exotic Tibetan religious rituals and a largely non-professional cast Scorsese’s film is more of a documentary-cum-travelogue than a movie. Given that the Dalai Lama who is the film’s main dramatic focal point has virtually no direct contact with any but his inside circle of minders Melissa Mathison’s  script (written in collaboration with the real Dalai Lama) falls back on a narrative thread which largely concerns Tibet and its revered religious leader’s relationship with the predatory Chinese.Somewhat disconcertingly however Philip Glass's score makes it impossible not to constantly recall Godfrey Reggio’s visually stunning  benchmark combo of hypnotic music and visuals Koyaanisqatsi (1982).

I've seen "masterpiece" bandied around about this film but whilst in its own way it is impressive, in the context of Scorsese's work, most people will be asking “where‘s Marty? Given the monumental misfire that was his previosu foray into religious matters, The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), perhaps we should be thanking our lucky stars.




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