(director: Jennifer Fox; cinematographer: Jennifer Fox; editor: Sabine Krayenbühl; music: Jan Tilman Schade; cast: Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, Yeshi Silvano Namkhai; Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jennifer Fox; Long Shot Factory; 2011)
“Amazing documentary that chronicles the story of the Tibetan Buddhist Master, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Jennifer Fox (“Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman”/”An American Love Story”)films for over twenty years this amazing documentary that chronicles the story of the Tibetan Buddhist Master, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, the renown teacher of Dzogchen, who emigrated to Italy after the Red Chinese invaded his homeland in the East Tibet region in 1959 and married an Italian woman who gave birth to his son Yeshi.The crux of the film examines the complex relationship between father and son, as seen through the eyes of the bewildered son who just wants to live a normal life and not the life of someone else.
At his birth Yeshi was recognized as the reincarnation of his famous East Tibetan uncle Khyentse, a beloved master of the Dzogchen. As a teenager, Yeshi refuses to acknowledge the reincarnation and just wants to be a normal young Italian man–thereby refusing to be what he is. Yeshi had a difficult time being the son of a master, someone traditionally expected to be like his master father. To make matters worse his college professor dad was always surrounded by students and Buddhist admirers and never spent enough time with his needy son. In 2002 Yeshi married an Italian girl and had a child and a stressful job for IBM. During this restive period the son comes closer to his revered dad, who slows down his active life as he becomes obese and has to battle cancer with help from his family. Finally in 2007 giving in and recalling in a dream the Tibetan landscape of his uncle, Yeshi recognizes his reincarnation and travels as a holy man to meet the many people in East Tibet who still revere their former great master.When Yeshi returns from his Tibetan visit, he quits his job and works to preserve the Tibetan culture and heritage through running a community center to study Tibetan teaching and by going on speaking tours.
Fox tells an intelligent and low-key intriguing tale about living out the trip that’s meant to be for you if you’re the son of a Tibetan master. It’s an unusual personal film about a family in conflict, who strive to find a way to live their own lives by studying themselves as they appear in the mirror. It’s a rare chance to examine the intimate personal life of a real-life accomplished spiritual master at such close range, as not too many masters would want to be seen on camera when not looking perfect. In a natural way it shows what is meant by living a spiritual life and how important a tool reflection is in one’s life, and that there are dangers of living a misleading illusionary life in not finding a way of getting to one’s interior and not following one’s dreams that spring forth from the subconscious. In this case living the spiritual quest is seen through a Buddhist prism, but the tolerant film has a message of enlightenment all true religions and seekers of knowledge can agree on. For the Buddhist follower it’s essential to realize that the conscious part of an individual doesn’t die but gets reborn and with each new conscious reborn there’s the opportunity to find an unswerving path to discover again the knowledge once lost.Buddhists believe that the Buddha gave them the best path to follow, while others follow what works for them and might be part of their heritage.
REVIEWED ON 6/24/2012 GRADE: A