10 Questions for the Dalai Lama (2006)

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Released 5-Jun-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Deleted Scenes
Interviews-Crew-Director Rick Ray
Interviews-Cast-Tenzin Geyche Tethong
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 86:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Rick Ray
Studio
Distributor
Entertainment One Starring Dalai Lama
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Peter Kater


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    In 2006 film maker and traveller Rick Ray was offered a project to make a travelogue about India. The project did not interest him much until he was presented with an almighty carrot - the chance to meet and interview the 14th Dalai Lama. Ray left in a flash and arrived in India only to find that no-one there knew anything about the interview. Through an elderly guide Ray was able to send an email to His Holiness and a meeting was duly arranged - in 3 months time!

Not wanting to waste the time Ray made his film about the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso as a person, and mentally prepared himself for the challenge of meeting his hero.

The rules were simple. He would be allowed no more than an hour with His Holiness and would be allowed to ask only 10 questions. Ray fell into a bout of nervousness. When presented with a man who, on the face of it, is wisdom personified, what do you ask that is neither too obscure and specific or too trite and general.

10 Questions for the Dalai Lama is therefore a film in almost two halves. The first half is Ray's preparation for the interview and his travels around India. The second is the substance of the interview with His Holiness. Throughout both are interspersed a variety of remarkable historical footage of the Dalai Lama as a young man and, more controversially, film of Chinese activities in Tibet. Of course, the Dalai Lama is in exile in Northern India and the modern Tibetan footage had to be filmed secretly. In fact, in the interview which forms one of the extras to this DVD, Rick Ray states that one section of footage, of modern Tibetans suffering in prison, was secretly passed to them by an unknown person.

Despite his constant assertions that he is just a "simple man" the Dalai Lama exudes a happiness from within that lets visitors know they are in the presence of someone special. He is constantly laughing and finds joy in the smallest things. Footage of him as a young boy already suggests another worldliness and depth of knowledge.

Rick Ray decided that it would be too obvious to number his questions and present them in a mathematical fashion. The result is that it is not entirely clear where the questions begin and end.

His subject matter? The value of tradition in the face of modern culture, non-violence in the face of overwhelming oppression, happiness amongst poverty and the future of the institution of the Dalai Lama.

Throughout His Holiness presents intelligent, considered answers without a trace of mysticism. He has often been recorded as saying that his Buddhist faith is tempered with science and that when the two cross paths he is more likely to choose science than religion.

The film is a fascinating guide to the man which works just as well as a documentary about his life, struggles and teachings as it does as a spiritual guide for would-be Buddhists. Those who saw His Holiness on his travels last year will want to purchase this DVD but even those with a parting interest in the Dalai Lama will find this a valued edition to their library.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    10 Questions for the Dalai Lama was written, filmed and directed by Rick Ray. Therefore anyone coming to this documentary with high definition expectations will be quickly disappointed. It is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio presumably for the US cable tv market.

There is an abundance of footage on display here and the historical footage suffers from the usual problems one expects with old film. There are plenty of artefacts on show and some damage to be seen. The secret footage shot in modern day Tibet is understandably poor quality.

However, the other footage shot by Ray of the Indian countryside is a little dull, noisy and lacking in crispness. The locations in which he shot the film are so spectacular that you are conditioned to expect to see high definition images as if it were an Attenborough nature programme.

The interview footage of the Dalai Lama himself is reasonably clear. The flesh tones are good and the colours stable.

The DVD itself does not come with selectable subtitles. However, and thankfully, most of the interview with the Dalai Lama is subtitled.

All in all the image quality is adequate and in keeping with the low-fi approach to the whole project.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sound for 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama is English Dolby Digital running out 192Kb/s.

In fact, this is perfectly adequate for the documentary which consists largely of dialogue. His Holiness speaks in a strong accent. Without the subtitles mentioned above, it would be difficult to catch all that he is saying. Although the Dalai Lama has an exceptional command of the English language, his accent is strong and it can sometimes be difficult to hear his words. When he came to Australia recently he used an assistant to translate some parts for him particularly when answering questions. Audio sync is not a problem.

The music, by Peter Kater is a combination of instruments and styles with a heavy accent on the new age. It perfectly suits the subject matter.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

This DVD contains a number of extras.

Deleted Scenes

There are 6 deleted scenes as follow:

  1. Fire walk (2.21);
  2. Jains (4.17);
  3. Bodghaya (3.33);
  4. Buddhist Monastery (1.26);
  5. Himalayan journey (4.57);
  6. Tenzin Bagdro (0.51).
None of these extras are essential however they assist in fleshing out the back story behind Ray's travels.

Interviews-Director Rick Ray

Two lengthy interviews round out the package.

The first is an interview with director Rick Ray (19.18). This is actually an interesting watch as it gives Ray a chance to give further insights into his travels including the important meeting with a local Indian guide which led to emailing the Dalai Lama. Ray seems like a decent bloke. The interview is something like 10 Questions for Rick Ray as, from the sounds of it, the questions for him were over-dubbed by the interviewer. There is a strange disconnect in the sound and occasionally technical problems with her microphone.

Interviews-Personal Secretary to the Dalai Lama

Finally, there is a lengthy interview (46.11) with Tenzin Geyche Tethong the personal secretary to the Dalai Lama. This interview is a source for the comments by the personal secretary throughout the documentary. He has known the Dalai Lama for a long time and is well qualified to discuss His Holiness's life, manner, and philosophy. It is a bit more dense and serious than the tone of the documentary itself but is still worth a watch.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This DVD appears to be identical in all regions.

Summary

    10 Questions for the Dalai Lama is an excellent introduction to one of the most important spiritual leaders of our time.

The visual and sonic aspects of the DVD are a little disappointing but I suspect those most interested in this film won't particularly mind.

The extras are an interesting addition to the package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

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