MOHome | Australian Greens Policy on Tibet | Tibet Groups in Australia | Wollongong Dharma Collective
Tibet on Film 1921-84 | Tibet on Film 1985-2005 | Index to Tibet on Film | Edinburgh | Karma | Links

Tibet on Film

A Lists of Feature Films and Television Programmes featuring Tibet

Part 1: 1921 - 1984

Michael Organ

Introduction

Belgian poster for the 1952 film Storm Over Tibet.

Tibet, located “on the roof of the world” between India , China and Russia , is an ancient land of natural beauty and mystery. Dominated by the stunning landscape of the Himalayan mountains in the south, and with a rich cultural heritage based on Lamaism and the Buddhist faith, filmmakers have long found much of interest in this distant land and in the Tibetan people.

The following listing of feature films and television documentaries and drama, and religious programmes featuring or making reference to Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism reveals not only the recent tragic history of this sovereign nation and its people, but also the ongoing and ever increasing fascination by foreigners. Though Tibet has long been physically isolated from the rest of the world, knowledge of its history and culture was substantial by the beginning of the twentieth century when film came into common use. During the early 1930s travellers brought the delights of Charlie Chaplin and western cinema to the Tibetans, and by the end of that decade even Lhasa had a picture theatre. Also during this period explorers in the region arrived with film cameras and brought out of Tibet the first footage of the extraordinary landscape and culture.

The earliest feature films making reference to Tibet are two German silent features from the 1920s. They use the elements of Buddhism and mystery referred to above, as do other pre-1950 movies such as Hollywood 'sLost Horizon of Shangri-la (1937) and The Razor's Edge (1946), though the latter were two were able to incorporate documentary footage from the Himalayas and Tibet . Unfortunately, the tragic invasion of Tibet by China between 1949 and 1959, and the state of martial law and military occupation which has existed in the country since then, has not only had a devastating effect on the Tibetans and their culture, but also put paid to the ability of film makers to freely use Tibet, its landscape, people and cultural heritage in feature films and documentaries. Chinese censorship and lies about the true state of everyday life in Tibet continue to this day, though in recent decades Tibetans and their supporters around the world have been more active in producing visual material which both outlines the true history of the country and documents some of the heritage which has either been destroyed or remains threatened by the ongoing Chinese occupation.

Since the late 1970s a wealth of visual material has appeared relating to Tibet . Whilst much of it is aimed towards practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism, numerous documentaries have also been produced alongside feature films which present pictures of traditional life in Tibet and also of life under the brutal Chinese regime. Some notable examples include Himalaya (1999) and Samsara (2001), along with Hollywood historical dramas such as Kundun and Seven Years in Tibet (both 1997), not to forget the more ephemeral kung fu action adventures often emanating from Hong Kong such as The Kid from Tibet (1992), Blonde Justice (1996) and Bulletproof Monk (2003). Breakthrough documentaries such as Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion (2003) continue to have a major impact on the international stage and keep the issue of Tibet and its cry for freedom before the public. Despite this, Tibet remains a land of mystery to filmgoers and armchair travellers. For this reason alone it will continue to interest filmmakers in years to come.

The following chronological listing of feature films and documentary material pertaining to Tibet has been compiled from a variety of sources. The Tibetan government-in-exile web site contains a listing of over 200 items for the period to 2001. In addition, the Internet Movie Database is a valuable resource on what has been released and what is currently available.

Within this listing each description has the following format: Title – Date, Country of origin, type, length, director, synopsis, comments and reviews. A title index is included at the end of the listing.

Acknowledgements

The following listing was compiled from a variety of sources., the majority of which were web-based:

* Tibet Government-in-Exile web site - http://www.tibet.com/

* Internet Movie Database - http://www.imdb.com/

* Buddhism in Film - http://www.buddhismus-im-film.de

* New York Times – Movies - http://www.nytimes.com/pages/movies/

* All Movie Guide - http://www.allmovie.com/

The compiler also used published sources such as:

D.J. Marion's The Chinese Filmography, McFarland & Co., 1997.

Thanks are due to the hard work and diligence of all the authors and compilers associated with those works.


1921

Der Tod und die Liebe / Life and Death

1921, Germany , drama, b/w, silent. Director Paul Otto. Cooper, an Englishman in Tibet , is accused of murdering the sister of the ruling Prince, Tantara Bagha. The prince follows Cooper to England to enact his revenge by kidnapping Cooper's fiancée Eleanor and forcing her to marry him as a bargain against Cooper's life. But Cooper returns to Tibet in hopes of rescuing her and finding the real killer of the prince's sister.

1922

Climbing Mount Everest

1922, United Kingdom , documentary, b/w, silent. Director Captain J.B.L. Noel. An account of the first British expedition to Mount Everest and of its encounter with the Tibetan people.

1924

Gotter von Tibet / Lebende Buddhas

1924, Germany , b/w, silent. Director Paul Wegener. Starring Asta Nielsen.

The Epic of Everest

1924, United Kingdom , documentary, b/w, silent. Director Captain J.B.L. Noel. An account of the second British expedition to Mount Everest and of its encounter with the Tibetan people.

Mysterious Tibet

1924, United States , documentary, b/w, silent. Director William Montgomery McGovern.

Six Holy Lamas from Thibet

1924, United Kingdom , British Pathe News, newsreel, b/w, silent. News footage of a visit to London of six Tibetan monks, in association with the release of The Epic of Everest.

1928

Storm Over Asia

1928, Russia , b/w, silent, 125 minutes. Director Vsevolod Pudovkin. Deals with the British occupation of southeastern Siberia and northern Tibet during the Russian civil war of 1917-21. A Mongolian hunter is found to be a descendent of Genghis Khan and groomed to be a leader by the British.

1929

The Wheel of Life

1929, USA , romantic drama, b/w, 55 minutes. Director Victor Schertzinger. With Nigel de Brulier as Tsering Lama. Captain Yeullat, a young British officer, on furlough in London from duty in India , prevents a young woman, Ruth Dangan, from drowning herself in the Thames , but she disappears before he learns her identity. Later, with his regiment in India , he meets her as the wife of Colonel Dangan, his commanding officer, and they fall in love. Finding himself in an impossible position, Yeulla has himself transferred to another regiment. Later, at a lonely outpost, he receives word that British travellers have been besieged by natives at a Buddhist monastery and leads his men to the rescue; there he finds Ruth and her party trying to defend the building, and during the battle they pledge their love, expecting to die together. But Dangan arrives with reinforcements and saves them; circumstantially, he is killed by a sniper, clearing the way for the marriage of Ruth and the captain.

1933

Poster for the 1943 German film - Secret Tibet - being a record of the 1938 scientific expedition.

Bhutan , Sikkim and Tibet

[1931-1933], b/w, silent, 200 minutes. Home movie footage by Frederick Williamson, British representative to Bhutan .

1935

Der Damon des Himalaya / The Demon of the Himalayas

1935, Germany , adventure documentary, b/w. Director Andrew Marton. Norman, an ethnologist, keeps in his office in Europe a copy of the "mountain demon" Kali Mata, a Tibetan god who protects the Himalayan peaks from intrusion. Just as he's been addressing defiant thoughts to the mask, a young woman, Anne, who attempted suicide through drowning, is brought to him. Norman takes her in and falls in love with her. Shortly after, he leaves her in Europe to join Professor Wille's expedition to conquer the "Golden Throne", a Tibetan summit (7250m) which, according to the natives, enjoys the protection of a particularly powerful god. Der Dämon des Himalaya was put together to raise money for Günter Oskar Dyhrenfurth's expedition to Tibet . Dyhrenfurth (1886-1975) was a well-known geologist and alpinist. Of Silesian background, he became a naturalised Swiss in 1933 and a professor at the University of Zurich . In addition to taking on responsibility for artistic direction for the film, he also produced it through his own company, Tramontana-Film AG, Chur-Zürich-Berlin which actually belonged to a German, Edgar Heumann. Andrew Marton, a specialist in action films, directed, although his name doesn't feature on the credits of prints distributed in Germany . All the members of the expedition feature in the film, alongside the star Gustav Diessl and Jamila Marton, the director's wife. Two other Swiss took part: cameraman Richard Angst and Arthur Honegger who composed the score - the only work he ever did for a studio during the Reich. Exteriors in India and Tibet were filmed from April to September 1934. Andrew Marton was to re-use them in 1951 in Storm over Tibet , an American production; and this footage would have a marked effect on Martin Scorsese who had been thinking about them the day before he started shooting Kundun.

Werewolf of London

1935, United Kingdom , horror drama, b/w, 75 minutes. While on a botanical expedition in Tibet , Dr. Wilfred Glendon (Henry Hull) is attacked in the dark by a strange animal. Returning to London , he finds himself turning nightly into a werewolf and terrorizing the city, with the only hope for curing his affliction a rare Asian flower.

1937

Lost Horizon of Shangri-la

1937, United Kingdom , adventure drama, b/w, 132 minutes. British diplomat Robert Conway and a small group of civilians crash land in the Himalayas , and are rescued by the people of the mysterioUSA, Eden-like valley of Shangri-la . Protected by the mountains from the world outside, where the clouds of World War II are gathering, Shangri-la provides a seductive escape for the world-weary Conway . Remade as a musical adventure in 1973.

Beyond the Forbidden Frontier

[1935-7], documentary, b/w. A film about the C. Suydam Cutting expeditions to Tibet in 1935-37. The film contains scenes of monasteries, people in the countryside and in Lhasa , aristocrats socializing, monks, people playing games.

1938

Yangrilla / Tibet Ka Jadoo

1938, India , Hindi language. Director M. Bhavnani.

1939

German Expedition to Tibet

[1939], documentary, 45 minutes. This rare film of travel through Tibet is believed to have been made by a special German expedition in 1939. The original is in the U.S. Library of Congress, and is said to have come from Berlin at the end of World War II. The film although, unedited and without sound, has interesting footage of the Tibetan plateau and people and of the ceremonies and games held during the Tibetan New Year. Cf. Geheimnis Tibet 1943.

1943

Geheimnis Tibet / Secret Tibet / Lhasa-Lo – Die Verbotene Stadt / Lhasa – The Forbidden City / The Enigma of Tibet

1943, Germany , UFA , documentary, 205 minutes. In 1938 Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler sponsored an expedition to Tibet lead by several Nazi SS scientists to study the region's flora and fauna. Features Bruno Berger, H.A. Lettow and Ernst Schafer.

The OSS Mission to Tibet : 1942-1943

[1943], documentary, 40 minutes, colour. Made by a professional cameraman accompanying the mission led Commander Illia Tolstoy and Captain Brooke Dolan and sent by President Roosevelt to His Holiness the Dalai Lama to request permission to transport military supplies through Tibet during WWII. Although the commentary by Capt. Dolan reflects many misconceptions held about Tibet at the time, the colour footage is an outstanding record of traditional Tibet : the land, the young Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people.

1946

The Razor's Edge

1946, USA , drama, 146 minutes. Larry Darrell returns from the battlefields of World War I to America a different person. His fiancé (Isabel) resigns herself to a delay in the wedding plans when Larry heads off to Paris . There he finds he prefers a simpler existence and begins to read. One book inspires him to visit India and on to Nepal and the mountains of Tibet where he finds spiritual help from a lama. On returning to Paris he finds Isabel and some old friends. Everyone has changed.

1949

Tibet Lecture - Lowell Thomas, Jr.

[1949], 20 minutes, colour, no sound. Important historical document of a visit to Tibet from around 1949. Includes scenes of people picnicking near Lhasa , religious ceremony, European visitors, monasteries, pageant, etc.

1952

Storm Over Tibet / Sturm uber Tibet / Mask of the Himalayas

1952, US/Germany, adventure drama, 90 minutes. Director Andrew Marton. During World War II, David Simms pilots supplies between India and China over the Himalaya Mountains . David steals a valuable religious artefact – a mask - from a Tibetan temple. One day he's forced to miss a flight and is replaced by his friend, Bill March. March's plane is lost en route and Simms feels guilty. Also, upon returning to civilization, he is plagued by guilt — and by the likelihood that a curse has been placed on his head. Seeking redemption, David joins a UNESCO expedition into the Himalayas , hoping to return the artefact to its rightful owners. Whilst in America he meets March's widow, Elaine. They marry and then both travel to Tibet to learn more about March's fate and about the mysterious Tibetan mask. Anthropologists may find some of the documentary footage mildly interesting, and this footage has been well merged with a fictional story, but the results still add up to little more than a minor curiosity. The fictional story features a young Rex Reason and partially deals with that old war-time situation where a returning soldier calls on the widow of a dead comrade and finds himself falling in love with her. Laced into this story are some philosophical musings about fate and the wheel of life, but while these musings are treated sincerely and with respect, they never rise above the level of platitudes. Most of Storm Over Tibet is built around footage gleaned from a 1930 German documentary filmed in the Himalayas , portions of which had been previously glimpsed in Frank Capra's Lost Horizon. The 1930 film had also been directed by Andrew Marton.

1954

The Snow Creature

1954, USA , 69 minutes. Botanist Frank Parrish leads an expedition to the Himalayas to seek out new flora, accompanied by hardboiled news photographer Peter Wells. When their lead guide, Subra, learns his wife has been kidnapped by a Yeti, Parrish disbelieves him, so the sherpas commandeer the expedition at gunpoint and turn it into a search-and-rescue party. To Parrish's surprise, they discover a whole family of Yetis in a cave, and are able to subdue the male and carry it back to civilization, to ship to the USA for study. Subra is forgiven his acts because he was right after all. Wells, meanwhile, phones in the story and Parrish finds his discovery - shipped upright in a meat cooler to maintain its natural environment - detained in the US because Wells' story refers to it as a snowman, and a decision must be made whether this is a customs or immigration matter. During this bureaucratic snafu, the creature escapes its containers and disappears into Los Angeles , mysteriously appearing in different parts of the city. Parrish teams up with police Lt. Dunbar to find the creature, which kills anyone who stands in his way.

1956

Seven Years in Tibet

1956, United Kingdom , documentary, 79 minutes. Director Hans Nieter. In 1939, at the outbreak of WWII, Austrian mountain-climber Harrier is captured and interred in an Indian P.O.W. camp. Harrier escapes from the prison with several other men and, at great peril, crosses the jungles of India and the mountains of the Himalayas . Against the wishes of Tibet 's religious leader, the Dalai Lama, Harrier and his companions enter the forbidden country of Tibet , and, eventually, the Holy City of Lhasa, where they are again held as prisoners.

1957

The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas

1957, United Kingdom , adventure drama, 91 minutes. At a remote lhamasery in the Himalayas , scientist John Rollason studies rare mountain herbs with the help of his wife Helen, and associate Peter, while awaiting the arrival of an American named Tom Friend. Over Helen's objections and warnings by the High Lhama, he sets out with Friend on an expedition to find the elusive Yeti, accompanied by another American named Shelley and a young Scotsman, McNee, who claims to have seen the thing. Footprints are found in the snows and McNee seems queerly affected the closer they get to their quarry's likely habitat but the biggest shock to Rollason is discovering Friend is a showman who only intends to exploit their find, with Shelley his gamehunter-marksman. The conflict between science and commercialism only increases when an enormous anthropoid is shot, and the horror only increases as the party realizes the other Yeti intend to retrieve their fallen comrade and have powers to do so which seem extra-human.

1958

Himalaya - life on the roof of the world

1958, 22 minutes, Atlantis Productions, English. Discusses cultural exchange throughout the Himalayan regions, the civilizations, geological importance, and the influence of Tibet on the peoples of the canyons.

The Religious Investiture of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

[1958-9], 20 minutes, Production: Office of Tibet, New York City . A colorful documentary record of sequences from the rigorous oral examinations required of the Dalai Lama to achieve his Geshe Lharampa degree (highest order of Doctor of Divinity degree). Some of the footage was filmed in 1958, and the balance in February 1959, only weeks before the Tibetan Uprising and the flight of the Dalai Lama to India . Informative and interesting scenes of the Potala Palace, Lhasa city and surrounding areas, Tsuglagkhang (the Central Cathedral), Ganden monastery (now destroyed), monks, government officials and ceremonial dancers from the original 8 mm. films.

Du Jiang Tan Xian / Exploring a River Crossing

1958, China , b/w, August First Film Studio, 9 reels. Director Shi Wenzhi. People's Liberation Army leader Li Yuming, just out of the hospital after being injured during construction of a major highway to Tibet , volunteers for a mission exploring a route to build a bridge to the Shizi Mountain peak. His lack of experience results in several disasters on the way, though with support from the Youth League committee he is eventually successful.

1959

Unconquerable Tibet

1959, 10 minutes, United States Information Agency. U.S. Government Cold War propaganda film which portrays the background of communist infiltration into Tibet since 1950, progressive aggression leading to the take-over by China and the flight of the Dalai Lama. Indicates the Indian reverence for the lama and resentment against threat to Buddhism.

Fei Yue Tian Xian / Flying Over Natural Dangers

1959, China , Beijing Film Studio, color, 10 reels. Director Li Enjie. In the period just after liberation, a team of meteorologists led by Xu Rui is stranded in the Tibetan mountains by an avalanche. Xu Rui's wife, a pilot, is sent with her co-pilot Zhao Zhongkai to drop supplies to the stranded team. Their first attempt fails due to mechanical troubles, and the second flight is turned back by bad weather. On the third attempt they overcome the difficulties and succeed in the drop. But a shortage of oxygen endangers their return to base, and they are just able to make it back safely. ( Marion 1997)

1960

Ke Shan Hong Ri / The Red Sun Over the Ke Mountains

1960, China , August First Film Studio, 2 reels. Director Dong Zhaoqi. “In 1950 a People's Liberation Army unit enters the Ke Mountains in Tibet . To increase the political awareness of the Tibetan people, they do not implement reforms immediately, but help the Tibetans to do it themselves. A Tibetan anti-Chinese force called Gexia sends spy Luo Jia into the mountains, where he links up with undercover agent Yade in opposing the PLA. They carry out disruptive acts of sabotage and finally openly rebel. In these circumstances, the PLA is forced to take military action, bring the rebels under control and free slaves in the Ke Mountains area.” ( Marion 1997)

Kun Lun Tie Qi / Steel Cavalry on Kunlun Mountain

1960, China , Changchun and Xian Film Studios, b/w, 10 reels. Director Yuan Naicheng. “In 1950, after the liberation of northwest China , some of the defeated Nationalist army allied with local gangsters tries to escape to Northern Tibet to continue their resistance in the natural fortress of rugged Kunlun Mountain . A PLA cavalry company led by Lei Jie pursues them. Lei Jie sends platoon leader Wei Gang and staff officer Zhang to scout the enemy, but Zhang returns to report Wei has been captured. Wei is later rescued by some Tibetan hunters. When the battle comes, disagreements between the gangsters and the Nationalist commanders leads to their suffering major losses. Later, the PLA cavalry crosses the Kunlun Mountain and wipes out the remaining Nationalist force.” ( Marion 1997)

1962

The Great Religions - Buddhism

1962, documentary, Canada .

1963

The Message of the Tibetans

1963, France , TV documentary. Produced by Arnaud Desjardins. Filmed in India , Sikkim and Bhutan and contains footage of major Tibetan teachers from all lineages including H.H. Dalai Lama, H.H. Karmapa, H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche, H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, H.H. Sakya Tridzin Rinpoche, Chatral Rinpoche, Abo Rinpoche, a very young Tai Situ Rinpoche and many others. In two parts: "Buddhism" and "Tantrism." English narration.

Jin Sha Jinang Pan / The Banks of the Jinsha River

1963, China , Tianma Film Studio, b/w, 10 reels. Director Fu Chaowu. In 1936 the Red Army on the Long March passes through the Jinsha River area on the Tibetan border. Their way is blocked by units of the Nationalist Army associated wit powerful local landlord Chou Wanli. Some of Chou's thugs masquerade as Red Army soldiers to abduch Zhuma, the only daughter of the Sangge village headman, invoking the headman's hatred of the Red Army. The Red Army sticks to the Party's minority policy and rescue Zhuma from Chou Wanli. The then drive the enemy back and cross the Jinsha River , reaching the Tibetan border. But Chou sneaks into the Sangge area ahead of the Red Army and reports Zhuma has been killed by the Red Army, further embittering the headman. Meanwhile, Zhuma has gradually gained the understanding and trust of the Red Army and sends her father a jewel he had once given her to show she is still alive. At a critical point Zhuma guides the Red Army safely to the village and exposes Chou Wanli's plot to her father. Chou attempts to flee the area, but drowns attempting to cross the Jinsha River . The Red Army continues on its way north. (Marion 1997)

1964

And So Tibet

1964, USA , animated short, Director Seymour Kneitel.

1965

A Refugee Story In India

1965, United States Information Agency. A high-ranking Buddhist monk Ngawang Thuthop, who has fled from Chinese persecution in Tibet , describes hardships under communism. A resume of the stand of Tibet 's people against the communists and the flight of refugees into India is given.

Tibetan Story

1965, 25 minutes. Produced by Christian Aid. The 1965 film examines the problem and needs of the Tibetan people in exile and the assistance provided by Church organizations for their resettlement in a new environment. The film offers a wide selection of scenes from Tibetan settlements in India , with special emphasis on the educational needs of the children, health problems of the refugees, the maintenance of Tibet culture and the future of the Tibetan people. Office of Tibet .

The Face of Fu Manchu

1965, United Kingdom , horror drama. Grisly strangulations in London alert Nayland Smith of Scotland Yard to the possibility that fiendish Fu Manchu may not after all be dead, even though Smith witnessed his execution. A killer spray made from Tibetan berries seems to be involved and clues keep leading back to the Thames .

1968

Tantra of Gyuto: Sacred Rituals of Tibet

1968, 52 minutes. A film by Sheldon Rochlin and Mark Elliot. An account of the secret Tibetan buddhist ceremonies performed by monks of the Gyuto Tantric College who use ritual and tantric power to effect change in the individual and his environment. By their inherent potency and disciplined execution, these essential energies bring about direct spiritual phenomena. The lamas have relaxed their traditional secrecy to allow certain chants to be heard publicly, introduced by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Narrated by Francis Huxley, the film includes extremely rare historical footage from the 1920's to the 1950's, including footage from the 1933 German expedition to Tibet .

Requiem for a Faith

1968, documentary, 28 minutes. Surveys Buddhist practices and explains the role of Tibetan lamas in developing the extremely religious nature of Tibetan culture. Producer, Elda Hartley; script, Huston Smith; cameramen, Irving Hartley, Elda Hartley.

1972

La Furia del Hombre Lobo / The Fury of the Wolfman

1972, Spain , colour, 90 minutes. a psychiatrist resurrects her lover after he has been attacked and bitten by a Yeti in Tibet . Subjecting him to bizarre mind-control experiments that force him to turn into a werewolf, she is attempting to awaken his dormant manliness that never existed before his death. Instead she awakens a killer that is completely under her control.

1973

Italian poster for the 1974 re-make of Lost Horizon.

Lost Horizon

1973, USA , adventure drama musical, 150 minutes. Musical remake of original 1937 film.

Meditation crystallized : Lama Govinda on Tibetan art

1973, 15 minutes, English, Hartley Productions. Lama Govinda discusses Tibetan art as an expression of the deepest and most meaningful levels of the human psyche and a crystallization of centuries of meditation.

Meditation Crystallized

1973, 13 minutes, colour, Hartley Film Foundation. Produced by Irving and Ida Hartley. Explores the nature and function of Tibetan Buddhist art.

1974

Milarepa

1974, Italian, drama, 108 minutes.

Sacred dances of Tibet

1974, ca. 30 minutes, English, Yantra Productions, US. The actual religious rites of the Cham dancing by monks of Khampagar in the spring of 1972.

Kalachakra 1974

1974, 60 minutes, Wisdom film. Directed by Dirk Duman. Captures the Kalachakra initiation held in Bodh Gaya , India in 1974.

Raid into Tibet

[1974], 30 minutes, b&w, 16 mm. Office of Tibet. The only available film of the Tibetan guerilla fighters who carried on their resistance efforts in Tibet from the remote Mustang area of Nepal from 1960 to 1974. George Patterson, author and Tibetan expert, takes the viewer to the secret guerilla camps and accompanies the men on a mission to raid a Chinese military truck convoy.

1975

The Lama King

1975, 45 minutes, BBC documentary. Features candid interviews with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and scenes from the daily life of Tibetans in exile in Dharamsala , India , the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. Of special interest are shots of the colorful and dramatic rituals performed to observe the Tibetan New Year and 1959 footage of the Tibetan National Uprising in Lhasa , the Dalai Lama's Geshe degree examination and his escape to India , including the original BBC broadcast announcing his safe arrival.

Tibetan Folk Dance Performances

1975, 90 minutes. Part I & II Filmed in 1975, during the 21-member Tibetan dance troupe's visit to the United States . They are from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, based in Dharamsala , India . 45 minutes each, Office of Tibet.

Tibetan Medicine: A Buddhist Approach to Healing

1975, 29 minutes. A film by Sheldon Rochlin and Mikki Mahler. Ama Lopsang Dolma , Tibet 's foremost woman doctor, shows how medicines are made from animal, vegetable and mineral substances and how acupuncture and moxibustion are used during her daily rounds as a practicing physician. Filmed at the Tibetan Medical Center , which was established in exile by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Indian Himalayas and is the only remaining center of Tibetan medicine. The video explores the relationship of physical health to magnetic and other forces in the environment, showing how Tibetan medicine heals both the physical and the psychic being by treating the patient rather than disease.

Bhutan : Land of Peaceful Dragon

1975, 29 minutes. Franz Lavi Films, Germany .

1976

Tanka

1976, USA , documentary, 9 minutes. Photographed from Tibetan scroll paintings – thangkas - of the 16th to 19th centuries, Tanka is a cyclical vision of ancient gods and demons, an animated journey through the image world of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Tibetan Heritage

1976, 18 minutes, US. Examines the Buddhist education of young Tibetan refugees at Kagyu Shedrup Ling, a monastery in Nepal . Describes instructional methods, curriculum, meditation training and the elements of monastic life.

Tibet

1976, 60 minutes, Patterson Film Distributors. Documentary by Briton Felix Greene. Shot in 1976 it also includes archival material on old versus new Tibet .

Nepal - Land of Gods

1976, 62 minutes. A film by Sheldon Rochlin, Mike Spera and Loren Standlee. Commentary by John Reynolds. Journey to Nepal and explore the ancient civilizations still thriving in this Himalayan kingdom, with its unique mixture of Buddhism and Hinduism. This video shows the ritual invocations of deities, meditation training for young Tibetan monks, and depicts belief in local spirits, mountain gods and folk figures (such as Yeti) in daily Sherpa life in the Everest region. It culminates in a dramatic evocation of a shaman's journey through the landscape of the psyche. The narrative explains how lamas have taken over the shaman's role as psychic healer and guide of souls, and how Tantra is an integral part of daily life, harmonizing the relationship between man, nature and a higher spiritual reality.

Sherpa High Country

1976, 20 minutes, color, 16 mm. Produced by Xenia Lisanevich. Includes detailed footage of the New Year festivities atThangboche Monastery, the highest in the world at 15,000 ft. Dances of humorous, legendary and exotic types are shown.

1977

Ao Jin Ma / Ao Jinma

1977, China , Xin Film Studio, color, 11 reels. In 1962 county administrator Dan Zeng arrives in the Xingke prairie region of north-west China , an area peopled largely by ethnic Tibetans. He is there to implement the individual household method of production. Party Secretary Ao Jinman sees this as a “new trend in class struggle” and resists San Zeng's efforts and continues with her unit's water conservation project. She also opposes his decision to cut off timber supplies to her project. At first she cannot understand why, but gains her answer from Chairman Mao's instructions to “never forget the class struggle.” Ao Jinma is at last victorious in this class struggle on the Xingke prairie. ( Marion 1997)

1978

Requiem for a Faith - Tibet

1978, 30 minutes, English, Hartley Film Foundation. Surveys Buddhist practices and explains the role of Tibetan lamas in developing the extremely religious nature of Tibetan culture.

Dalai Lama Interview

1978, 30 minutes, colour, Lemra Associates. Features interviews with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and some footage of Tibetan exile communities in Dharamsala , India . Office of Tibet .

Bing Shan Xue Lian / Ice Mountain Snow Lions

1978, China , Emei Film Studio, b/w, 10 reels. DirectorXiangLing. “In 1935, as the Red Army on the Long March passes through Tibet, they rescue poor stonemason Rebu and his son Zhaxi from persecution by local Buddhist priests. Regimental Commander Yue Tianyu and his doctor wife have just had a baby, a girl name Jinzhu. They leave the girl with Rebu and his wife and take Zhaxi with them. After the Red Army leaves, the priests want to hurt the baby. Rebu saves her, but is himself killed. Rebu's wife then raises Jinzhu. In 1951, a Red Army road building crew comes to that area of Tibet , led by Zhaxi, now a battalion commander. He meets Jinzhu but they of course do not recognize each other. Later, during a battle with Tibetan reactionaries, Jinzhu is critically wounded, but fortunately her real parents have also come to Tibet and her mother saves Jinzhu's life. The family is reunited, and Zhaxi is reunited with his mother.” (Marion 1997)

1979

Dalai Lama USC

1979, 50 minutes, colour. Filmed during His Holiness's visit to the United States . The subject of his talk at the University of Southern California was "Bodhisattva Motivation: Giving and Taking" followed by questions and answers. Office of Tibet .

Twenty Years in Exile

1979. ABC-Television film made in Dharamsala. 20/20 Interview with Dalai Lama narrated by Hugh Downs with Barbara Walters. Good overview of the situation in Tibet , including old footage and an official Chinese response.

Ya Ya

1979, China , Changchun Film Studio, color, 12 reels. Director Sun Yu. “In 1935, in a serf owner's manor in Tibet , Tibetan girl Yaya is in love with Luosang, a young carpenter. When the two marry, the Master Gabo drives Luosang from the manor. The following year, Yaya gives birth to a daughter, but Luosang disappears, and Yaya never sees him again. Yaya dies. Fifteen years later, Luosang, now a People's Liberation Army deputy divisional commander, leads an army into Tibet . He learns of his wife's death, and that their daughter, age four at the time, had been sold to a tribe called the Jimi, who had renamed the girl Yaya. He learns that Yaya now runs a military supply depot. Gabo, now the head of an anti-Communist rebel force, tries to destroy the depot, but Yaya leads a brigade of liberated serfs to resist Gabo's forces. With help from the PLA, Yaya's force puts down the rebellion. Yaya is at last reunited with her father Luosang.” ( Marion 1997)

Xue Qing Ma / The Xueqing Horse

1979, China , Shanghai Film Studio, color, 9 reels. Director Yu Zhongyin. Shortly after the liberation of Tibet , a People's Liberation Army cavalry unit pursuing bandits comes to a village called Aiershang. A strange person named Yeerha Nati interferes with their activities. Nati is owner of the famous Xueqing horse, winner of many races. (Marion 1997)

1980

Chanting Lama

1980, 27 minutes, UK . Conveys the ritual dance and music of Tibetan monks in northern India against a backdrop of religious painting, sculpture and architecture.

Echoes from Tibet

1980, 27 minutes, UK . Discusses the part music plays in the lives of the Tibetan Buddhists.

Dalai Lama

1980, Canadian Broadcasting Company, Man Alive TV program. Features an extensive interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the 1959 rare footage of his visit to Ganden monastery, the third largest monastery in Tibet , to take his final examination for the Geshe Lharampa degree (the Highest Order of Doctor of Divinity degree). 30 minutes, color. Office of Tibet .

1981

Dalai Lama Interview

1981, US, Lesea Broadcasting T.V., color, 50 minutes. Set in the Buddhist Lamaist Monastery of America in Washington, N.J. His Holiness the Dalai Lama talks about Buddhism, the current situation in Tibet, Tibetan exile life and so forth. The interview was done during his 1981 visit to the United States . Office of Tibet .

Tibet

1981, color, 56 minutes. Produced by Peter Lehman. Features delegation's visit to Tibet and the scenes of the countryside and ruins of monasteries razed by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution in 1967-1976. Office of Tibet .

1982

The Dalai Lama Shall Come Back

1982, 44 minutes, Wisdom Film. Produced by Franz and Brigitte Alt. A film shot secretly in Tibet in 1982 for West German television, interviewing Tibetans who suffered Chinese oppression.

Tibet : The Lost Mystery & The Iron Curtain Falls

1982, 120 minutes. The World About Us. Part I & II. Part I examines the historical events starting form Younghusband's expedition to Tibet in 1904 and leading up to the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959. Part II examines the events from the flight of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and exodus of Tibetan refugees into India and other neighboring countries. This film updates the events to 1982 and also features the highlights of the three fact-finding delegations to Tibet sent by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Office of Tibet.

Forbidden Land

1982, 30 minutes, color. Produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Company, 1982. This production features the highlights of the three fact-finding delegations' visits to Tibet and the overwhelming reception given to them by the Tibetan people despite restrictions imposed by the Chinese authorities. It also features a brief interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Office of Tibet .

Tibetan Medicine

1982, 45 minutes. Produced by Russel Pariseau. Features a group of doctors from Harvard Medical College visiting Tibetan Medical Institute in Dharamsala and examines Tibetan medical systems and also experimentation of Tumo (heat) meditation with Tibetan lamas who practice this type of meditation.

Death and Transference of Consciousness

1982, London , 60 minutes, Wisdom Films. Lama Thubten Yeshe explains the Buddhist view of death and the path that consciousness follows as it moves from one lifetime to the next.

Death, Intermediate State and Rebirth

?1982, approx. 8 hrs. Manjushri Institute, Cumbria , Wisdom Films. Five lectures by Lama Thubten Yeshe giving an extensive explanation of the inner process of death and how it can be used in the path to enlightenment.

The Three Principles of the Path

1982, France , 105 minutes, Vajra Yogini Institute, France, Wisdom Films. Two lectures by Lama Thubten Yeshe on renunciation, bodhicitta and the right view of emptiness, given as a prelude to a tantric initiation.

A Kind Heart

1982, 60 minutes, color, Meridian Trust. Traditional introduction to Buddhism given in London in 1982 by the Tsenzhab Serkong Rinpoche, debate partner and assistant tutor to the Dalai Lama.

Avalokitesvara: The Dalai Lama in Europe

1982, 40 minutes, color, Meridian Trust. Documentary of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's tour of West Germany and Italy in 1982.

Bringing Buddhism to the West

1982, Lama Tsong Khapa Institute, Italy , approx. 60 minutes, Wisdom Films. A Dialogue with FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition) Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.Answers questions concerning problems commonly faced by Western Buddhist centers.

Opening Address to the Conference on Universal Education His Holiness the Dalai Lama

1982, Lama Tsong Khapa Institute, Pomaia , Italy , approx. 60 minutes. Wisdom Films. Provides the basis for the first conference on child education and psychology organized by the Universal Education Association.

Marco Polo

1982, TV series. The life and experiences of the 13th-century explorer, who sought to connect the civilizations of China and Europe through trade, including visiting Tibet .

Spiritual Life in a Material World

1982, Vajara Yogini Institute, France, 60 minutes, Wisdom Film.

Engaging talk by Geshe Namgyal Wangchen the resident teacher at Manjushri London Centre, full of advice and encouragement for those who live and practice Dharma in the West.

Tantra: The Experience of Transformation

1982, Italy , 60 minutes, Lama Tsong Khapa Institute , Wisdom Films. Lama Thubten Yeshe explains Tantric methods for utilizing emotional energy and turning what would usually become a neurotic disturbance into the experience of "blissful wisdom energy."

Cai Se De Ye / Colorful Night

1982, China , August First Film Studio, 9 reels. Director Zhang Youngshou. Drama concerning the experiences of Deputy Director Li of the Tibetan Transportation Bureau, a by the book manager and very strict with the people he supervises.

1983

Xiong Mao Li Xian Ji / Adventures of a Panda

1983, China , Emei Film Studio and Hong Kong Zhongyi Co., 1- reels. Story of Ping Ping, a little panda living with his mother in a great forest. Also living at a nearby mountain was a Tibetan doctor and his grandson Xiao Feng. One day, Pingping is caught in a trap set by a hunter, but is saved by Xiao Feng and his grandfather. The pair outwit the hunter and get the panda home safely. ( Marion 1997)

1984

Tibet - A Buddhist Trilogy

1984, United Kingdom , documentary, 231 minutes. This trilogy of films on Tibetans in exile focuses first on daily life in a refugee community in southern India, then on life and rituals in a similar community far to the north, in Nepal, and finally, on a two-hour puja or meditation on Green Tara, the national protectoress of Tibet and remover of life's obstacles. The Tara meditation is chanted with drums, horns, cymbals, and multiple hand gestures, and illustrated by images of the green-skinned female saint (bodhisattva) sitting on a lotus. It is spellbinding and inspirational for some viewers, and a little too long for others. The first two separate films, an hour each, show carpet makers, farmers tilling their fields, scenes at school, a cremation, monks in theological debate, scenes of monastic life, and a brief interview with the Dalai Lama (Noble Peace prize winner and acknowledged religious leader of the Tibetans). This trilogy is excellent for anyone wishing to expand their knowledge of a culture endangered by the Communist Chinese policy of suppressing both Buddhism and the Tibetan language in Tibet , not to mention using Tibet as a continuing site for nuclear testing, and the dumping of nuclear waste.

The Razor's Edge

1984, USA , drama. Remake of 1946 feature film. Starring Bill Murray.

Two Tibetan Buddhist Nunneries

1984, 60 minutes, Wisdom Publications, India . Documentary on the nunneries at Tilokpur, where Tilopa meditated, and at Dharamsala in India .

All Of Me

1984, USA , comedy. Rich but sick millionaire Edwina Cutwater feels her untimely death coming up. She never could enjoy life, as she was either in a wheelchair or in bed, so she decided to take a chance: Prahka Lasa, a Tibetan master of meditation, should transfer her soul into the body of Terry Hoskins, whose soul therefore will become one with the universe. Accidentally, her soul is transferred into the body of her unliked lawyer Roger Cobb, whose soul remains in his body. Now, Edwina has control about the right half of Roger's body, his soul about only the left half. They struggle together to get her soul into the right body, but not without having some conflicts between themselves to solve.

Ossian: American Boy/Tibetan Monk

1984, United States, 27 minutes. Tale .of a 12 year old boy who has lived since age four as a monk in a Tibetan monastery in Kathmandu and is thought to be an incarnation of a high lama.

Our Lives from Tibet to England

1984, London and Cumbria , approx. 75 minutes, Meridian Trust. Geshe Wangchen, Kelsang and Konchog. Three learned Gelugpa individually recall the story of their lives and give impressions of life in the West.

Inauguration of the Tibetan Women's Association

1984, Dharamsala , India , 60 minutes, Wisdom Publications. In Tibetan.

Dharamsala

1984. Produced by Mark Elliot. Home movie style. Prayer, recitation, children, Tibetan Medical Center , carpet factory, Tibetan Children's Village and more. Color. Office of Tibet .

Dharma: The Meaning of Existence Excellent

1984, London , 165 minutes, color. Excellent overview of the Buddhist path following the Nyingma categorization of the mineyanas or vehicles and explaining the meaning of the term "Dharma." Taught by Namkhai Norbu Rinpche Rigpa.

Geshe Lhundrub Sopa: My Life East and West

1984, Manjushri London Centre, 60 minutes, Meridian Trust. Renowned for his deep understanding of Madhyamika, Geshe Lhundrub Sopa has been living in America since the mid-1960's. He is a professor at the University of Wisconsin , Madison .

In Exile From the Roof of the World

1984. A film by David Cherniack Films for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's "Man Alive" series. Made in the Winter of 1984, this film is a long interview with the Dalai Lama as he visited the Mongolian Monastery of America.

Khensur Pema Gayltsen: My Life in Brief

1984, Lam Rim Centre, Wales , 45 minutes, Meridian Trust. Khensur Pema Gyaltsen, former abbot of Drepung monastery recounts some of his life story. Translated by Geshe Namgyal Wangchen.

The Cremation of Lama Thubten Yeshe

1984, Vajrapani Institute, Boulder Creek , California , 120 minutes, Wisdom Films. When he passed away in California in 1984, Lama Yeshe was accorded the full ritual honors of an accomplished Vajrayana master with a cremation stupa built and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and Geshe Sopa among those present.

The Dalai Lama Addresses the General Assembly of Tibetans in Exile

1984, Dharamsala , India , 60 minutes, Wisdom Publications. Tibetan language.

The Dalai Lama in Britain 1984

1984. A series of films of the visit of His Holiness to Britain in 1984. Produced by the Tibet Foundation. Wisdom Publications.

The Dalai Lama Visits Christian and Buddhist Communities

1984, Ampleforth Abbey and Samye Ling , UK , 60 minutes.

Kyabje Zong Rinpoche: Tribute to a Master Practitioner, 1904-1984

1984, 60 minutes, Meridian Trust. Tribute covering the UK tour of 1984 and showing Rinpoche at his home in South India and his cremation in India .

The Nature of Mind

1984, Rigpa, London , 80 minutes, color, Meridian Trust. Sakya Trizin gives a lucid and profound explanation of the practices of Mahamudra from the Sakya lineage of Drogmi Lotsawa.

Peace: A Goal for All Religions

1984, Ampleforth Abbey and Samye Ling , UK , 60 minutes.

Peace of Mind: Peace in Action

1984, Royal Albert Hall, London , 60 minutes.

Peace Through Human Understanding

1984, Edinburgh , UK , 60 minutes.

Contribution of the Individual to World Peace

1984, Coventry , UK , 75 minutes.

Sem-Dzin: 21 Ways of Focusing Mind

1984, Ilfracombe, Devon , 120 minutes, Meridian Trust. In this lecture the range of meditative practices for focusing or "holding the mind" from Man-ngag-de is summarized.

The Basis of the Spiritual Path

1984, Manjushri Center , London , approx. 150 minutes, color, Meridian Trust. The first of a series of teachings given during Tsenzhab Serkong Rinpoche's final visit to Britain . Translated by Geshe Namgyal Wangchen.

The Dzogchen Rite

1984, Ilfracombe, Devon , 60 minutes, Meridian Trust. The ritual taught by Rinpoche can be practiced on a number of levels and incorporates Chod practice.

The Gift of Peace: A Message for All Faiths

1984, 75 minutes, United Kingdom .

World Peace

1984, Westminster Abbey, London , 60 minutes.

Tibetans Celebrate the Birthday of the Dalai Lama

1984, Camden , London , 60 minutes, Wisdom Films.

The Teaching of Buddha in Everyday Life

1984, Rigpa, London , 90 minutes, color, Meridian Trust. H. E. Sakya Trizin, the head of the Sakya sect, gives practical advice on integrating Buddhism into daily life.

The Three Testaments of Garab Dorje

1984, Ilfracombe, Devon , Meridian Trust. Summary of the entire Dzogchen teachings by the first master to transmit them in this epoch.

The Triple Vision

1984, Rigpa, London , 6 hours, color, Meridian Trust. H. E. Sakya Trizin gives a general commentary referring to the three views of the world, that an ordinary being, of a practitioner with insight into reality and the totally integrated view of a fully awakened view of a fully awakened master or Buddha. Meridian Trust.

A Tribute to a Lama: Thubten Yeshe 1935-1984

1984, approx. 60 minutes, Wisdom Films. Lama Yeshe was a major influence in the transmission of Tibetan Buddhism in the West and this short tribute includes excerpts from his teachings and some informal moments.

Inspector Gadget - Weather in Tibet

1984, cartoon, 30 minutes.

Page compiled by: Michael Organ. Last updated: 8 November 2005.


MOHome | Australian Greens Policy on Tibet | Tibet Groups in Australia | Wollongong Dharma Collective
Tibet on Film 1921-84 | Tibet on Film 1985-2005 | Index to Tibet on Film | Edinburgh | Karma | Links