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This review is from: The Tibetan Book of the Dead (DVD)
This is a 2009 re-release of a earlier 2004 DVD version which has been out of print for way too long. Originally available in two parts on two VHS tapes in 1994, it was a great relief to see them finally transfered to DVD.
With a total duration of 90 minutes, the first half (titled "A Way Of Life") includes an interview with the Dalai Lama and explores the history and use of the text of the Bardo Thötröl. Anyone sincerely interested in the liturgies and rites of the Tibetan Book Of The Dead will find this first half of the documentary, shot over four months, simply fascinating. The reality behind the veil of mystery surrounding this sacred text is eloquently revealed.
The second half, titled "The Great Liberation," documents a more intimate look inside the book as it takes the viewer inside the home of a deceased man as a Lama and a younger monk perform the Buddhist ritual, rarely seen in practice. Take note that this includes footage of a deceased person - it is not gross or morbid. But in case you have any issues with this, you should at least be made aware. This actual documentation is interwoven with the thoroughly engaging animation by Ishu Patel.
For purist, this documentary lacks some production values we have come to expect in today's digital world, but that is no excuse to dismiss this entirely watchable film with it's profound insights. In a way, this film progresses along in a meditative sort of way. I know of no other documentary that explores the Tibetan Book Of The Dead with this degree of integrity, intelligence and respect. Adding to this the excellent narration by Leonard Cohen, makes this DVD a must in any library of important Buddhist films.
Steve Clorefein of Parabola Magazine writes of this film: "An extraordinary window into traditional Buddhist practices of devotion and compassion" - and I could not agree more.