DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
HD DVD / Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Sponsored Links
Search: For:
Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Kundun (Blu-ray)
Kundun (Blu-ray)
Kl Studio Classics // PG // October 29, 2019 // Region A
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted October 29, 2019 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly

The Movie:

Kundun is the second in an unofficial trilogy of Martin Scorsese films that deal with spiritual figures struggling to square the ultimate goal of purity and compassion that their religion teaches with the harsh and unforgiving realities of human nature. Most of Scorsese's work revolves around men who see the world as a nihilistic dog-eat-dog battleground; you eat your enemies before they eat you, take advantage of your neighbor before they screw you over and leave you to die in a ditch.

Perhaps that's why this "trilogy", capped with 2016's Silence, represents a form of spiritual therapy and a move in the opposite tonal direction for Scorsese, instead focusing on protagonists who vow to treat every living thing with respect and love, and get punished for it by the outside world while coming to terms with their infallibility as people. What made his Christ still the most fascinating depiction on camera derives from his humanization of the character, steadfast in his goals yet unsure of his ultimate divination for getting there. Kundun tells the story of the 14th Dalai Lama, played by three non-professional actors across three different ages, trying to find common ground between his religion and his responsibilities as head of Tibet in order to protect his people from the invading Chinese forces.

Roger Ebert's mixed review of Kundun came from his inability to connect with the humanity of the Dalai Lama as opposed to Christ's human plight in Last Temptation. He claimed that since the Dalai Lama was presented as more or less an actual infallible 14th reincarnation of the spiritual leader, Melissa Mathison's screenplay created a nevertheless beautiful and respectful biopic that lacked some of the soulful and philosophical depth it required. Right off the bat, the script shows us that the child Dalai Lama is indeed the reincarnation, by having him pick the previous incarnation's personal items. As an adult, he appears cool and collected in even the direst of situations, and we don't get any scenes where he questions his own divinity.

Yet that's what makes it an integral counterpart to Last Temptation. While that story was internal and personal, Kundun explores how complete inner peace still has to contend with the ugliness and cruelty of the practical world. Kundun truly shines in soulful sequences that express the Dalai Lama's acceptance of the spiritual bind that connects us, may it be through the repeating motif of a rat drinking water, or the dream sequences that make him feel the pain of his fallen people. The straight biopic sections, including a big chunk of the second act that focuses on Dalai Lama's negotiations with Chairman Mao (Robert Lin) about the fate of Tibet, are satisfactory enough as far as genre confines go, but lack the unique beauty and grace of the spiritual journey.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

The 1080p transfer perfectly captures DP Roger Deakins' sweeping epic shots of the Tibetan landscape (Shot in Morocco since the Chinese understandably wouldn't let the production film in Tibet), full of earthly browns and vibrant reds. There isn't any noticeable video noise, and color depth is spectacular.

Audio:

This is a grand and epic biopic so of course one has to consider the clear dynamic range of the sound effects and dialogue when examining the DTS-HD 5.1 track. But the main reason to fire up the surround system is to be encapsulated into Philip Glass' transcendental minimalist score.

Extras:

Commentary by Peter Tonguette: The film critic delivers more of a written lecture that an off-the-cuff commentary. This comes across as a film school lecture in the way that it incorporates Scorsese's other spiritual films and comparing them to Kundun. A great extra bit of information for fans.

In Search of Kundun: This is a terrific, all-encompassing feature-length documentary that covers all aspects of the production, and gets candid with Scorsese's personal attraction to the project through in-depth interviews. A treat.

Interview with Scorsese: This is more interview footage, over 30 minutes long, from the In Search of Kundun production.

Interview with Philip Glass: Another extra from In Search of Kundun, Glass talks about his influences for and the production of the score for 45 minutes.

Interview with Melissa Matheson: Mathison talks about her script and its journey through the production for 40 minutes. Another extra from In Search of Kundun.

Interview with Michael Henry Wilson: This is what going the extra mile is about. It's an hour-long interview with the director of In Search of Kundun, where he talks about how the behind-the-scenes footage started and evolved into the feature documentary.

EPK Extras: 40 minutes of EPK material. Scorsese complained that Touchstone didn't promote the film properly. The proof can be found here, where the EPKs make the film look more like a straight Oscar-bait biography than the spiritual journey it is.

We also get a Trailer and a booklet with an essay by filmmaker Zade Constantine.

Final Thoughts:

Not as singular and brave as Last Temptation, Kundun is still a formidable study into the battle between the spiritual and the practical. This Blu-ray, with tons of extras and a great A/V transfer, does the film justice.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

Find the lowest price for 'Kundun (Blu-ray)'
Popular Reviews
1. Charley Varrick
2. Seven Days to Noon
3. The Gun Runners
4. Someone Behind the Door
5. Ringu
6. Stuber
7. The Queen of Spades
8. Man of a Thousand Faces
9. Clarence Clemons : Who Do I Think I Am?
10. Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans


Sponsored Links
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Sponsored Links
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use