The Tibetan Book of the Dead (or the Bardo Thodol) is a text (translated in the 8th century A.D.) that is traditionally read aloud to the dying to help them attain liberation. It is said to guide a person from the moment of death to recognize their true nature, free their consciousness and attain liberation.
This DVD has two 45 minute-long documentaries on the importance of the book and the rituals done for centuries by Tibetan Buddhists with regards to death.
The first documentary titled A Way of Life takes place in Ladakhi northern India. It is primarily an introduction to the book and gives us an example as it follows a lama who goes to read the scripture of the Bardo Thodol in the presence of an elder who has passed away. The documentary is rather rudimentary but does give a good inside view of life and religion in that part of the world. It also features a brief interview with the Dalai Lama.
The second documentary is titled The Great Liberation and follows an elder lama and his young apprentice to one of the nearby villages where a middle-aged man is dying. There they read the Bardo Thodol with the family all around. This documentary is a lot more stylized than the first. It includes animation and somewhat questionable point-of-view shots recreating the 'after death' experience in the presence of the mourning family. But the film does include a lot of information on the concepts of death in Buddhist culture.
Both documentaries are directed by a team of directors; Hiroaki Mota, Yukari Hayashi and Barrie Angus McLean. Both are also narrated by Leonard Cohen with a new age score by Toshiyuki Honda. Both films are co-produced by Japan, France and Canada.
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