The Lost World of Tibet DVD
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Directed by Emma Hindley
Produced in 2006
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
Featuring stunning colour film footage of Tibet in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s, beautifully restored by the British Film Institute, this riveting documentary explores the history of Tibet before the Chinese invasion of 1950. Dan Cruickshank treks across the country, exploring local customs and traditions, and rueing the vibrant culture that was lost following the Occupation. In the amateur archive material, filmed by Medical Officers, Political Agents and botanists, we see a dazzling array of ceremonies and rituals, costumes and landscapes, most of which are filmed in glowing colour. It has become a cliché to describe Tibet as Shangri-La, yet some of the shots here do indeed evoke a vivid utopia.
This is the director’s cut of the film first shown on BBC4, featuring half an hour of extra footage, including an extended interview with the Dalai Lama (who watches footage of his childhood self with a mixture of poignancy and amusement) and talking heads from those who remember ordinary Tibetan life before the Chinese invasion. There is also some beautiful colour footage of Tibetan flora and fauna. The dvd also includes the original version shown on television.
Alex Davidson on 4th March 2008
Author of 238 reviews
A recently restored treasure trove of colour films from the 1940s and 1950s provides the core of this astonishing film, which allows us to see what Tibet was like before its occupation by China. As members of the aristocracy and the Tibetan government in exile recall, the Tibetans’ world revolved around a series of colourful religious festivals, taking up 68 days of the year. In The Great Prayer Festival, monks take over from the government for a few days and, whilst ceremoniously whipping their subjects, impose fines for such offences as singing in public or having a dirty house.
The film includes a revealing interview with the Dalai Lama, who reminisces about how much he missed his mother and his envy for his brother who got to play with all his toys. The Dalai Lama found himself studying from his rigorous final monastic exams – which included publicly debating with his elders – at the same time that the Chinese were preparing to take over the country. “We were just so engrossed in our little pond,” recalls one interviewee. “We knew nothing, what was happening in the world, what could happen. And so we lost our country.”
Length: 90 mins
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 10th March 2008
Cat No: BFIVD747
- Also contains the original 60 minute BBC version
- Booklet containing film notes.