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118 of 124 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps it is simplistic, but I enjoyed it
As a traditional Jew who is often critical of films about Judaism, I can understand why some Buddhist reviewers have disparaged "Little Buddha" as overly-simplistic. For a lifelong practitioner of Buddhism, it probably is. Then again, people have to start somewhere. Those of us who seriously practice a spiritual path - whatever it may be -- tend to forget that intro...
Published on November 19, 2002 by Rabbi Yonassan Gershom

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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Educational
Cast: Ying Ruocheng, Alex Wiesendanger, Keanu Reeves, Chris Isaak, Bridget Fonda
Little Buddha is both an enjoyable and educational movie. This movie has two story lines. One is about the quest of a group of monks, to seek out the reincarnated spirit of a great Buddhist teacher, Lama Dorje. And the other is a retelling of the story of Siddhartha, and how, having...
Published on November 22, 2001 by Ernest


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118 of 124 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps it is simplistic, but I enjoyed it, November 19, 2002
This review is from: Little Buddha [VHS] (VHS Tape)
As a traditional Jew who is often critical of films about Judaism, I can understand why some Buddhist reviewers have disparaged "Little Buddha" as overly-simplistic. For a lifelong practitioner of Buddhism, it probably is. Then again, people have to start somewhere. Those of us who seriously practice a spiritual path - whatever it may be -- tend to forget that intro level materials are just that -- basic intro. While the average Buddhist might already know the story of Buddha's life by heart, the vast majority of non-Buddhists here in the USA do not. Also keep in mind that this is a PG family film, not an historical documentary. My impression was that the film was primarily aimed at children, since the main characters is a little boy, and the story-within-the-story about Buddha's life is presented as a series of scenes in a book he (the American kid) is reading. Granted, the film does have an certain idealized, fairytale quality, but then again, so do the all those sand-and-sandals films about Jesus. Which is why I would place "Little Buddha" in the same genre. I happen to like this kind of pagentry, so I enjoyed "little Buddha" for the icongraphy that it is.
On the technical end, the cinamatography is beautiful, the costumes are superb, and the acting is well done. The story, while fictional, is based on real cases of Tibetan Lamas who have reincarnated in the West. As a companion to this film, I would recommend Vickie McKenzie's book, "Reborn in the West," which chronicles several such real-life cases. In fact, it was after reading McKenzie's book that I noticed this film and decided to view it.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging introduction into Buddhism, November 24, 2011
This review is from: Little Buddha (DVD)
I have owned and enjoyed this film since it's release on video. Coming from a background of Buddhist study, I found this to be a very accessible and welcoming introductory film into the philosophy of Buddhism for a Western audience. The story covers the life of the Buddha, as well as that of a contemporary child, and his family's intersection with this centuries old faith tradition. Because Buddhism shares little that is familiar in it's origins with the Abrahamic faiths which predominate in America and the Western world, the stories about the early life of the Buddha are retold, with great beauty and respect, so they become understandable and relevant. This is intertwined with the adventures of the American child and his family, as they struggle to face decisions that they had never before contemplated, concerning their own lives and work, as well as the future of their son, who now has a variety of paths open to him. The photography is outstanding, and the music stands on it's own well enough that I purchased the sound track. The actors are well cast, with several actual Buddhist monks and a wandering ascetic portraying themselves in the film. This is a very enjoyable film for children and adults, and one that can be enjoyed on a deeper level with anyone who has studied Buddhism, as there are visual references to tenets of the faith through out the movie. This is a film that can simply be enjoyed for it's voluptuous story telling and performances; or as an exploration of a faith older than Christianity, and how it has shaped cultures. It is filmed on location, in India and Seattle, and provides an entertaining glimpse of the possibilities that life can offer, even in the face of obstacles and uncertainty.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving, touching, even inspiring beginner's story of Buddha, November 15, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Little Buddha [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I have seen this movie five or six times, now, and each time I find something new and significant in it. Keanu Reeves was just fine, who says he's a horrible actor? And physically, he was totally appropriate. I loved the little kids' acting, too, and I will look at Bridget Fonda no matter what she does. This movie inspired me to continue my spiritual quest. It may be oversimplified, but a movie that's about peace and love and spirit is a great and wonderful relief from all the violence and gore and general horrible content of many of the newer movies. I too love all of Bertolucci's films, but this one touched my innermost being.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Little Buddha---Big Movie, November 14, 2001
By 
Nikki (Goochland, VA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Little Buddha [VHS] (VHS Tape)
"Little Buddha" is a very interesting, educational, and well-made movie. It's not the best movie I have ever seen, but I can tell you that I thouroughly enjoyed it.

The story begins in modern-day Tibet. A monk, Lama Norbu, receives a letter telling him that the reincarnation of his former teacher may have been found. He goes to Seattle to pursure this great news, and another monk tells him that he had dreams that their old teacher led him to the same empty spot on a hill over and over again. One day, the monk came across teh very spot from his dream and finds a house there. A family with an only child lives there and the monks believe that Jesse, the child, is their teacher reincarnated. The monks visit Jesse and his mother at home and leave Jesse a book about Buddha.
Later, Jesse asks the monks about their teacher and takes them to the Seattle Fine Arts Museum to see a sculpture of Buddha. Jesse's mother takes him to the Dharma Center to visit the monk, where they continue to read to Jesse the story of how Siddhartha became the Buddha.
Jesse's father arrives to talk to the monks and calls the story of Buddha a myth and while he has plenty of respect for the Tibetan culture and religion he does not believe in reincarnation. The monks explains reincarnation to Jesse's father by breaking a cup full of tea. He says that the tea is still tea even when it's on the floor in in a rag. He says the mind and spirit are the same way after death. He goes on to mention that if Jesse goes to Nepal with the monks that he could be a powerful figure in Tibetan culture. Irritated, Jesse's father says it's gone too far, takes his son, and leaves.
He then gets a call on his cell phone and finds out that Evan, his business partner, died unexpectedly, causing Jesse's father a great deal of pain. Father and son stop to look over a bridge and watch the cars drive past, symbolizing life passing by. Jesse's father tells Jesse's mother that he has had a change of heart and that he thinks Jesse should go to Bhutan.
On the plane the monks explain more of Siddhartha's story. As it turns out, there are 2 more candidates for the reincarnated teacher, Raju and and girl named Gita. Lama Norbu goes to the Oracle to find out which child is really the teacher, because he is confused about it. I won't tell you what happens, but when Lama Norbu has a decision, he is at peace with himself and tells Jesse's father that his time is done.
Throughout the modern setting, there is a totally different plot going on, the retelling of how Siddhartha became the Buddha, which is always done in a flashback format.
Aside from both great stories that were told, "Little Buddha" is a very well-made movie. All of the present-day scenes from Seattle are done in very cool colors, almost making it seem like you are looking through blue glasses. In the present-day scenes from Nepal and the flash-backs to the story of Buddha, every thing is warm and done in oranges and reds. The costuming was excellent and communicated very well what people really wore in the time of Siddhartha and what peoploe wear in modern times also. I think that the actors were very well fitted for their roles and veryone involved in making this movie did a good job.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie, Limited DVD, August 4, 2011
By 
L. Peyronnin "liquidlen" (Albuquerque, NM United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Little Buddha (DVD)
This is a great movie, by a great director. However, the DVD has no closed captions, so, if you want to show the movie to someone who is hard of hearing or deaf, you can forget about it. In fact, there are virtually no features on this DVD, just a breakdown of chapters. If captions are needed, one should try another edition, perhaps the Blue-ray.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Story With Beautiful Cinematography, December 25, 2004
This review is from: Little Buddha (DVD)
I have seen this movie several times and it's on my list of DVD's to purchase for my collection.

I thought that the interweaving of the story about 3 children who are candidates as the reincarnation of a Tibetan Lama (Lama Dorje ), with the Story of the Life of the Buddha was an interesting approach which I thought was executed successfully.

I also thought that the acting was very well done overall. On my first viewing, I would have agreed with other reviewers, that Chris Isaak seemed very "Detached" and it at first put me off. On further viewings however, I actually could see the subtle metamorphosis of his character.

He is an engineer who is not only skeptical about the whole idea of his son being a possible reincarnation of a Tibetan Lama, but is also struggling with intense personal stress due to the bankruptcy and then death of his business partner. Looked at in that light I thought he portrayed the character believably.

What's important to note is that as the movie moves on he warms up considerably to and has a deepening connection with Lama Norbu (whose character,is the central Tibetan Monk in the story, he is the one who is searching for his deceased teacher's reincarnation).

He (Issak's Character) most definitely appears to start to appreciate the Tibetan Buddhist ideas as well. In fact in a subtle way he seems to start to heal from all the recent turmoil in his own life from his interactions with Lama Norbu and the other Tibetan Buddhist monks.

I give this story five stars on many accounts. First, I love the story and the courage the director had to make a major film about something like this. Second, I thought the cinematography was beautifully done. Third, I personally thought that overall the acting was well done and that Keanu Reeves did a good job overall as the Buddha. In addition all the other actors, both the adults and children, came across very naturally in their roles.

The actor, Ruocheng Ying, who plays Lama Norbu in Particular was outstanding as well as all the Tibetan actors, many who I believe are real monks (Sogyal Rinpoche for certain is not only a real Tibetan Monk but the author of "The Tibetan Book Of Living and Dying".

Anyway, if this topic interests you, if you like movies like Kundun or Seven Years in Tibet, you will most likely enjoy this. If you are someone who has no exposure to Buddhism this is an enjoyable way to get a very basic idea of some of it's beliefs. Of course the Buddha's "life story" as portrayed in this movie definitely isn't meant to be a literal historical portrayal (particularly about his birth, with him walking and talking as a newborn).

Still, concerning the Buddha, his teachings are what matters and not the "cult of personality". The Buddha tried very hard to instill in his disciples that his teaching was key and that he was not to be the focus of their practice, he was an example of how to live and practice, not someone to be prayed to.

Namaste
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "He Who Brings Good" ~ "The Path To Englightenment Is In The Middle Way", September 14, 2005
This review is from: Little Buddha (DVD)
Do you believe in reincarnation? This is the question that must ultimately be answered by a young American family when a group of crimson robed Tibetan monks unexpectedly appear on the front porch of their upper-class Seattle residence. Dean and Lisa Conrad (Chris Isaak and Bridget Fonda), the parents of a bright, inquistive boy named Jesse (Alex Wiesendanger) are faced with the possibility that their son may be the reincarnated soul of a revered Tibetan Lama. At least that's what they've been told by this group of monks recently relocated to downtown Seattle.

Just before leaving Lama Norbu (Ying Ruocheng) presents Jesse with a gift, a book on the life of Siddhartha. In the days following this initial encounter with the religious leader of the Tibetan community Jesse begins to read about the life and deeds of the young Prince who would one day become the Buddha.

From that point on the film shifts back and forth between the interaction of the Tibetan monks with the Conrad family in modern day America and the retelling of Siddhartha's (Keanu Reeves) life and journey to enlightenment in ancient India. This movement is flawlessly done by director Bernardo Bertolucci, adding depth and meaning to the rapidly changing events taking place in the life of little Jesse Conrad.

An excellent movie on every level. Intelligent storyline, incredibly beautiful cinematography provided by Vittorio Storaro and overall good performances, especially by the Tibetans and Kanika Pandey as Queen Maya. What an exotic beauty! This film may be a little slow for those with no interest in Buddhist philosophy and spirituality, however if you are just a little open-minded it will provide much food for thought and discussion.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spritually lifting, August 29, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Little Buddha (DVD)
An excellent exploration into the story of Buddha and how it contrasts with our western ways of thinking. It touches on all the main points of Buddhist philosophy and our usual reactions to it. From a film making point of view, it is a masterpiece of cinematography. The lighting, direction and sound track take you away and lift you to a higher plane.
Watch for the symbolism in almost every shot.
Love it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This movie works on many levels, October 21, 2011
This review is from: Little Buddha (DVD)
This is a Bertolucci movie so it will naturally have his style. This is a different story so it should be told differently from his other films. In my opinion this is his best. It is based on a true story; this means he did not wake up in the middle of the night with a radical idea. The story is used not only for the individual incident but as an allegory for today's Tibetan (there are many other types) Buddhist way of thought.

These are not two parallel stories in contrast. With out one the other makes no sense. The section in Seattle is filtered in blue; I may have some deeper meaning; I see the blue filtered scenes as the superficial environment. These differences help with the description of impermanence.

The Selection of actors is excellent.. You do not want the actor personalities to overshadow the character. It is too late for me. I will always think of Siddhartha as looking like Keanu Reeves.

Just as with Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments ", the film story does not actually follow the written story of Siddhartha. However, as this is the one that I watch, therefore I will always think of this when some one mentions Buddha.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a Buddhist movie for Buddhists!, July 26, 2001
This review is from: Little Buddha [VHS] (VHS Tape)
As a follower of Tibetan Buddhism, I was so thrilled to find a movie that presents the traditional story of the Buddha's life while also giving a realistic portrayal of modern Tibetan Buddhism. I think a lot of the reviewers have missed the point of this movie - it is essentially religious, not a creative fiction to be analyzed on story elements.
The portrayal of the Buddha's life was very accurate to the Buddhist accounts and very well done - I was especially pleased to see how authentically Indian the scenes were. The modern story may have seemed far-fetched to some, but the account of the monks' search for their reincarnated teacher was accurate and I especially liked how realistic the Tibetan monks were. The visuals from Nepal (particularly the Bodhnath stupa) and Bhutan were truly breathtaking. This is a very fine movie and I look forward to showing it to my children some day.
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Little Buddha
Little Buddha by Bridget Fonda (DVD - 2011)
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