The Last Dalai Lama? (2016)


(director: Mickey Lemle; cinematographer: Buddy Squires; editors: Mickey Lemle/Don Casper; music: Philip Glass/Tenzin Choegyal; cast: Dalai Lama; Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR producer: Mickey Lemle; Matson Films; 2016)

Uplifting spiritual film.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director Mickey Lemle (“Ram Dass: Fierce Grace”/”POV”) twenty-five years ago made the documentary “Compassion in Exile.” The film introduced to many in the Western world the compassionate and gentle Dalai Lama and also introduced to many of us the plight of Tibetan Buddhists who since 1959 have suffered under the rule of the Chinese government. In this uplifting spiritual film, earnestly made with no-frills, we witness the 80-year-old 14th and final Dalai Lama doing such things as celebrating his birthday in NYC and offering his genuine love to both friend and foe. The gist of the film has the robed monk taking in various events that include meeting with Canadian elementary school children; chatting with the father and daughter team of Paul and Eve Ekman, research behavioral psychologists on emotions, who are funded by the Dalai Lama; meeting with neuro scientists to connect with how scientists concur with Buddhist thoughts on the brain; attending in 1979 the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York to hear Philip Glass play the organ; honored with a Congressional Medal of Honor in the WH by President George W. Bush and spreading his inward ancient wisdom throughout the modern world while living in Dharamsala, India as an exile. He also freely shares with us his beliefs on finding happiness, on meditation, on the purpose of life being to help others, on matters of rebirth and finding the clear light within while preparing for death.For those like myself, who long ago found relevance in studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism, I found this simply told biopic educational and inspirational. It is a call to find the love we all have in our heart and to use our life to make this a better world. The film uses archival footage, interviews and photographs to tell us the Dalai Lama’s adventure story and show us his trademark laugh.It tells of how at a young age the Dalai Lama was forced to escape from the Chinese occupation of Tibet and walk over the mountains with his entourage to freedom in India. In the end, the film suggests that according to the Dalai Lama there will not be another Dalai Lama because it’s no longer possible to properly carry out the ritual when living in exile and that Tibet is ruled by the non-believing Communists willing to compromise the process.


REVIEWED ON 11/17/2017 GRADE: A-