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Ram Dass: Fierce Grace (2001)

William Alpert , Ram Dass , Mickey Lemle  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: William Alpert, Ram Dass, Larry Brilliant, Bhagavan Das, Timothy Leary
  • Directors: Mickey Lemle
  • Producers: Bobby Squires, Buddy Squires, Mickey Lemle, Jessica Brackman, Linda K. Moroney
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Unknown)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Zeitgeist Films
  • DVD Release Date: April 15, 2003
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008DDV1
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,555 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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  • Learn more about "Ram Dass: Fierce Grace" on IMDb

Special Features

  • 20 minutes of exclusive additional footage
  • Chant Master Krishna Das' prayer "Hanuman Puja," accompanied by a photo montage of Maharaj ji
  • "Hanuman Puja" lyrics in Sanskrit and English
  • Biographies on Ram Dass and Producer/Director Mickey Lemle
  • Personal statement from Mickey Lemle

Editorial Reviews

Harvard professors Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary made countercultural history in 1963 when they were fired from that institution for conducting controversial psychedelic drug research. In the purple haze aftermath, Alpert journeyed to India and found his guru Maharaj ji, who renamed him Ram Dass ("Servant of God"). Best known for his 1971 bestseller BE HERE NOW, which was a spiritual touchstone of the era, Ram Dass became an inspiration to people across the globe. Filmmaker Mickey Lemle--who has known his subject for more than twenty-five years--intersperses vivid archival footage from hippiedom's glory days with intimate glimpses of Ram Dass today, as he continues to remake his life since being--in his words--"stroked" in 1997. Named by NEWSWEEK as one of the Top Five Non-Fiction Films of 2002, RAM DASS FIERCE GRACE is an engrossing, poignant meditation on spirituality, consciousness, healing and the unexpected grace of aging.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
86 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gift of love November 25, 2004
Mickey Lemle's documentary Ram Dass, Fierce Grace, describes the life of Ram Dass (Richard Alpert), author, 60s guru, spiritual teacher, cohort of Timothy Leary, and author of Be Here Now, one of the most influential books of the 1970s. The film begins in the present as Ram Dass deals with the effects of a massive stroke he suffered in February 1997 that left him physically incapacitated and with impaired memory and speech.

Interweaving current conversations, interviews with people in his life, and archival footage, Lemle then looks back at his childhood, the controversy surrounding his research with Timothy Leary in psychedelics at Harvard, his studies in India with Neem Karoli Baba who renamed him Baba Ram Dass (Servant of God), his work with the Seva Foundation in social action projects dedicated to relieving suffering in the world, and his impact as an author and guru to millions of followers. Several examples are shown of his compassion and his ability to feel the pain of others. In an opening sequence, his beautiful "Rachel's Letter"*comforts a family after their daughter was murdered. In the final sequence, Ram Dass listens to a young woman struggling to overcome her grief at her boyfriend's violent death. In a powerfully moving segment, she brings Ram Dass to tears when she tells him about a dream she had in which her boyfriend speaks to her from beyond with a reassuring message.

When Ram Dass received the "fierce grace" of being "stroked", he admits he did not have any unusual spiritual epiphany. He recalls, "Here I am, Mr. Spiritual, and in my own head I didn't orient toward the spirit. It showed me I have some work to do".
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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Itself a Transmission July 2, 2004
By A Customer
Never a Ram Dass fan, I saw this film at home and experienced a totally unexpected elevation of thought, mood and outlook. In my early 50's, I have surrendered many of my earlier life beliefs, preferring to live realistically and in concert with the community as it is. This film reached deeply into my core, brought deep tears and a profound softening, compassion for us all on the planetary journey. For anyone feeling distanced from spiritual energy, this is a must see, as it wakes up the best of what we as humans have to offer.
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109 of 117 people found the following review helpful
This is a documentary about the legendary Harvard professor, Richard Albert, who experimented with LSD in the 60s, then went to India, changed his name to Ram Das, and came back to become a guru for the hippie generation. Now he's about 70, and, due to a stroke he suffered in 1997, is wheelchair bound. "I never expected old age to be like this," he says with difficulty, as his speech is slow now as he struggles to find the right words. The camera takes us right with him on his daily routine. Aides help him dress and drive him to his many therapy appointments and we are witness to his acupuncture as well as speech and physical therapy sessions.
There's background of course, home movies of him as a child in the 1930s, one of three lively siblings whose father was the president of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. There's some footage of him with a fresh face and short cropped hair as a professor at Harvard as he and Timothy Leary saw the mind altering drugs of the time as a major breakthrough in human psychology. And then we see him with his guru in India, taking on the spiritually that was even more powerful than the drugs. He then returned home, bearded and dressed in what his father described as a "bedsheet", and held outdoor yogi sessions for his hundreds of his followers right on the golf course of his family's New Hampshire estate. His book, "Be Here Now" became a best seller and is still in print.
But now he's an old man, struggling with his physical challenges. Much of the film focuses on him this way, and sometimes it's hard to watch as he's learning to live with his limitations.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fierce Grace September 9, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Recently, as I was recovering from pneumonia and feeling pretty depressed, a friend recommended I get a copy of Fierce Grace. As I watched clips of Ram Dass both before and after his stroke, I realized what suffering really was and that the human spirit always---even in the depths of pain, disease, or sorrow---has choices. When Spirit smacks us in the head with some kind of difficulty in our lives, we can either wallow in our suffering and fade away or we can accept the "fierce grace" Spirit has extended to us and grow. The message that healing is not a return to the way things were before we get sick or go through some kind of trauma, but rather the growth of spirit and consciousness that we can undergo as we come through difficulty stuck with me. My physical illness is gone, but I am not the same. For anyone facing a difficult time in his or her life, I highly recommend viewing this DVD.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just about Ram Dass, but approaches to aging April 14, 2005
As we all get older, the loss of independence and control that we've spent a lifetime acquiring is a frightening aspect. Beyond the spiritual components in the biography of Richard Alpert's life is a story of his life after the stroke that left him incapacitated; it's ironic that the book he was working on when he was "stroked by God" was a book on aging itself. Ram Dass's current example has become a daily reminder of what each one of us can accomplish with manifest hope and the help of others in our lives. (May we all have a cosmic jester the likes of Wavy Gravy!) Whatever one may think of Ram Dass as a spirtual guide his all-too-human frailty teaches a practical, very earth-bound lesson toward approaching age and disability. Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Awesome and Inspiring !!!
Published 1 month ago by Joanne Wahrer
5.0 out of 5 stars Ram Dass fans will love this in depth look at what our guru has ...
Ram Dass fans will love this in depth look at what our guru has become with age. It's funny to see that the great american sage of his times is just another old man dealing with... Read more
Published 2 months ago by wiggler69
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolute Must
If you care about aging and disability, or believe that it will never happen to you, this film is a must. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Morgan Leigh
5.0 out of 5 stars A blessing of a story
I work with stroke patients and I also happen to love Ram Dass' teachings. I appreciate his perspective on stroke as a teacher. And I love the overview of Ram Dass' life.
Published 5 months ago by Maryam
5.0 out of 5 stars How to age with grace
Ram Dass shares what is at such a deep level. Fierce Grace is interesting, touching, and very much inspiring to me as I face the fragility of aging.
Published 5 months ago by Maureen
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving
Powerful, moving and often funny, examination of this spiritual leader's life. There is much that is inspirational here, in a non-hyped, gritty way. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Katharine Lockhardt
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful and inspirational film,
A powerful and inspirational film. I have watched it over and over again. The amazing story of an incredible spiritual teacher.
Published 10 months ago by Lorraine Aguilar
5.0 out of 5 stars Must See
If you have a loved one that has suffered a stroke, this movie is a must see. From Guru to Humble Leader Ram Dass's Fierce Grace will give you the safety and insight that you are... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Jason Stein
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw, Real, Ram Dass
Sometimes painful to watch, this movie details his early days, but more importantly, shows his struggles after the stroke. So real, frightening and uplifting at the same time. Read more
Published on September 27, 2012 by Kara
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love Ram Dass!!!
Ram Dass turned my life around, his words of wisdom and the way he lived his life as shown in this documentary enlightened me on the real meaning of what it is to be a Christian. Read more
Published on June 14, 2012 by Evelyn
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