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Gendun Choephel is a legendary figure in Tibet. Believed to be the reincarnation of a famous Buddhist lama, this promising young monk turned his back on monastic life and became a fierce critic of his country's religious conservatism, cultural isolationism and reactionary government. After leaving the monastery in 1934, and fueled by his intellectual curiosity and free-spirited nature, Choephel traveled throughout Tibet and India in order to understand the true history of his country.
Both a personal and political portrait of this pioneering and visionary intellectual (who also renounced the "false duty of monastic obligations" and smoked, drank and was married), ANGRY MONK features rare archival footage, Choephel's paintings, and contemporary scenes of sites he visited, along with interviews with Tibetan historians, scholars, writers, and his wife.
Today Choephel is a revered figure in his homeland, and an influential symbol of hope for those seeking political and spiritual reform in a free Tibet. ANGRY MONK tells his story.
A beautifully observed blend of biography, road movie, history and travelogue. Downright bracing! --SF Weekly
Absorbing! A very useful perspective on recent Tibetan history. --The Vancouver Sun
An exceptional documentary of a fascinating character. Highly recommended! --Educational Media Reviews Online
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Top customer reviews
Unfortunately, Tibet will never be free again as the US and Britain failed to assist the spiritual center of the world during their turmoil invasion. Forthe record, this marvelous nation is also known as Shangri-La. Sadly, the US has now entered into a "Covenant with the Enemy" Chinese nation and this harm will bring due Karma at its destine time...
Disillusioned with a culture that worshiped tradition and feared innovation, Choephel left the stifling regimen of monastic life in 1934 in the company of Rahul Sankrityayan, an Indian scholar of Buddhism and communist activist for Indian independence. Traveling to India, Choephel stepped into a world of wonders, a land criss-crossed by trains, peopled with merchants and businessmen engaged in trade with the outside world, and united in throwing off British imperialism. Enraptured and eager to experience it all, Choephel shrugged off his monastic habits and began an inner exploration of sensual pleasure through tobacco, alcohol and women. All the while he was writing in his diary, painting, sketching, completing the first ever Tibetan translation of the Kama Sutra, publishing a pilgrim's guide to the sacred Buddhist sites of India, contributing reports on the outside world to an emigre newspaper, and beginning work on a non-religious history of Tibet.
Arriving back in Lhasa, Choephel found his reputation had preceded him and was promptly thrown into jail, tortured, and left to rot until being released only months before the Chinese invasion of 1950. With any hope for reform crushed by the arrival of Mao's army, Choephel entered an intense period of inebriation from which he never recovered, passing away in 1951 at the age of 48.
Swiss director Schaedler works matter-of-factly, tracing the travels of his subject from his birthplace in eastern Tibet through to India and back to Lhasa, weaving together interviews with Choephel's surviving contemporaries with voice-overs describing his own journey. Anyone interested in modern Tibetan history should not miss this film, especially as it is the only document about Choephel's life currently available in English.
The film is available on DVD direct from the director's website.