24 december 2015

Buddhist movies

Update January 2016, Xuanzang is a movie about the Chinese monk who brought Buddhism from India to China. 
Update December 2015, my personal recommendations:
  • Osamu Tezuka's Buddha (animation adapted from the canonical work of the "godfather" of Japanese manga)
  • The Buddha (documentary narrated by Richard Gere, includes interview with HH the Dalai Lama)
  • Tashi and the Monk (a Tibetan monk and his community)

Interested in Buddhism, the religion that connects all of Asia? (As all Asian countries, at some point in their history, have been influenced by it.) Try reading a book or watching a movie! Perhaps you are drawn to its philosophy, rituals, mysticism or thousands of years old culture. If anything, spirituality is said to relieve stress.

After listing the best Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Indian movies, below a list of the best Buddhist films and documentaries according to IMDb. The movies are split between Asian and Western productions. The ones made in Hollywood tend to be more popular, not to mention movies like The Matrix (not in this list) that have Buddhist themes, but it is in my opinion far fetched, or too diluted.

Other widely enjoyed films are action movies with for example Kung Fu (Bruce Lee) and Muay Thai or Thai kickboxing (Ong Bak) that draw huge crowds and gain critical acclaim. According to a legend most Asian martial arts are closely related to for example Zen, as the founder of this school - Bodhidharma - is affiliated with the cradle of Kung Fu, the Buddhist Shaolin Temple. Most scholars are aware of this fact, and probably most avid martial arts fans. However, in these blockbusters usually the Buddhist roots of say - Yip Man - are simply not very tangible. Which is why, they are not included below. Too strict? Perhaps, but otherwise the list would be full of boxing monks, ninjas and samurai...

The films are ranked by average score followed by number of votes. A description of each movie is included as well.

I am a Buddhist, I believe in nothing(ness). _/|\_

Asian productions

1. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom) 8.1
This film takes place in an isolated lake, where an old monk lives on a small floating temple. The wise master has also a young boy with him that teaches to become a monk. And we watch as seasons and years pass by. 35.111 votes

2. The Burmese Harp (Biruma no tategoto) 8.1
In the War's closing days, when a conscience-driven Japanese soldier fails to get his countrymen to surrender to overwhelming force, he adopts the lifestyle of a Buddhist monk. 2.574 votes

3. Kaidan 7.9
This film contains four distinct, separate stories. "Black Hair": A poor samurai who divorces his true love to marry for money, but finds the marriage disastrous and returns to his old wife, only to discover something eerie about her. "The Woman in the Snow": Stranded in a snowstorm, a woodcutter meets an icy spirit in the form of a woman spares his life on the condition that he never tell anyone about her. A decade later he forgets his promise. "Hoichi the Earless": Hoichi is a blind musician, living in a monastery who sings so well that a ghostly imperial court commands him to perform the epic ballad of their death battle for them. But the ghosts are draining away his life, and the monks set out to protect him by writing a holy mantra over his body to make him invisible to the ghosts. But they've forgotten something. "In a Cup of Tea": a writer tells the story of a man who keep seeing a mysterious face reflected in his cup of tea. Written by Kathy Li. 6.529 votes

4. The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (Shao Lin san shi liu fang) 7.7
The anti-Ching patriots, under the guidance of Ho Kuang-han, have secretly set up their base in Canton, disguised as school masters. During a brutal Manchu attack, Lui manages to escape and devotes himself to learning the martial arts in order to seek revenge. In a short period of time he masters the deadly use of his fists, feet and palms, along with such weapons as swords, sticks, and lances. With his learning complete, he takes on the Manchus. 6.754 votes

5. A Touch of Zen (Xia nu) 7.5
An artist, Ku, lives with his mother near an abandoned fort, reputed to be haunted. One night, investigating strange noises, he meets the beautiful Yang who is living there. She is being pursued by agents of an Imperial noble who have murdered her family. Ku finds himself caught up in her struggle to survive, and many fierce battles take place before all is resolved. Action adventure with a lyrical feel, this is a kung fu film with a strong spiritual element. Written by Richard Hills . 1.817

6. Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?: A Zen Fable (Dharmaga tongjoguro kan kkadalgun) 7.5
Three people live in a remote Buddhist monastery near Mount Chonan: Hyegok, the old master; Yong Nan, a young man who has left his extended family in the city to seek enlightenment - Hyegok calls him Kibong!; and, an orphan lad Haejin, whom Hyegok has brought to the monastery to raise as a monk. The story is mostly Yong Nan's, told in flashbacks: how he came to the monastery, his brief return to the city, his vacillation between the turbulence of the world and his hope to overcome passions and escape the idea of self. We also see Hyegok as a teacher, a protector, and a father figure, and we watch Haejin make his way as a curious and nearly self-sufficient child. Written by jhailey@hotmail.com. 741 votes

7. Samsara 7.4
A spiritual love-story set in the majestic landscape of Ladakh, Himalayas. Samsara is a quest; one man's struggle to find spiritual Enlightenment by renouncing the world. And one woman's struggle to keep her enlightened love and life in the world. But their destiny turns, twists and comes to a surprise ending... Written by Monsoon Films. 3.266 votes

8. Travellers and Magicians 7.2
The two men embark on parallel, if separate, journeys. Their yearning is a common one--for a better and different life. Dondup, delayed by the timeless pace of his village, is forced to hitchhike through the beautiful wild countryside of Bhutan to reach his goal. He shares the road with a monk, an apple seller, a papermaker and his beautiful young daughter, Sonam. Throughout the journey, the perceptive yet mischievous monk relates the story of Tashi. It is a mystical fable of lust, jealousy and murder, that holds up a mirror to the restless Dondup, and his blossoming attraction to the innocent Sonam. The cataclysmic conclusion of the monk's tale leaves Dondup with a dilemma--is the grass truly greener on the other side? Written by Sujit R. Varma. 1.389 votes

9. Milarepa 7.1
Milarepa is a tale of greed and vengeance - demons, magic, murder and redemption. It is the story of the man who became Tibet's greatest mystic. 448 votes

10. Blue Snake (Ching Se) 6.9
Two snake spirits become human and learn about love and suffering. A monk discovers his own weaknesses and finds that morality is not as simple as he had thought. 1.173 votes

Western productions

1. The Cremator (Spalovac mrtvol) 7.8
Kopfrkingl enjoys his job at a crematorium in Czechoslovakia in the late 1930s. He likes reading the Tibetan book of the dead, and espouses the view that cremation relieves earthly suffering. At a reception, he meets Reineke, with whom he fought for Austria in the first World War. Reineke convinces Kopfrkingl to emphasize his supposedly German heritage, including sending his timid son to the German school. Reineke then suggests that Kopfrkingl's half-Jewish wife is holding back his advancement in his job. Written by Will Gilbert. 2.670 votes

2. Kundun 6.9
From childhood to adulthood, Tibet's fourteenth Dalai Lama deals with Chinese oppression and other problems. 15.608 votes

3. Lost Horizon 7.7
A plane crash delivers a group of people to the secluded land of Shangri-La -- but is it the miraculous utopia it appears to be? 6.931 votes

4. Himalaya 7.2
An aging chief's last stand, lessons for the new, and the education of a young chief-to-be played against harsh Nature in Nepal's Dolpo. When his son dies returning from Tibet's salt lakes, Tinle blames Karma, his son's friend, refuses to give Karma his blessing as the new chief, and organizes a rival caravan to take the salt to lower Nepal to trade for grain. He, a few old men, his son's widow, his grandson, and his second son, a monk, set out on the arduous journey. Fearing storms, Karma has led his caravan out of the village before the auspicious day ordained by the lamas. Tinle's group catches Karma's before the final pass; the two stubborn men lock wills with Tinle's grandson watching. Written by jhailey@hotmail.com. 3.508 votes

5. Enter the Void 7.1
A drug dealer becomes interested in death and re-incarnation after reading "The Tibetan Book of the Dead". Suddenly dead, his soul floats through Tokyo observing the dramas of his friends and foes. An oath determines his next step 'as a soul'. 20.585 votes

6. Seven Years in Tibet 6.8
True story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama at the time of China's takeover of Tibet. 58.952 votes


1. Buddha Wild: Monk in a Hut 8.3
Buddha Wild Monk in the Hut is the story of a group of Thai and Sri Lankan monks, living around their temple in a country far far from home. Anna Wilding gives the commentary in this unpretentious but original and illuminating film with a well-judged mixture of seriousness and humor which is in important contrast to the monks words. An enjoyable cinematic experience. A fascinating film. Written by Janet Taylor. 125 votes

2. Buddha's Lost Children 7.8
Buddha's Lost Children is a feature-length documentary film about a Thai Buddhist monk who - armed only with his faith and skills and master boxer skills - wages an inspirational battle to help orphaned children, fight drug abuse, and preserve a vanishing way of life. Written by Anonymous. 264 votes

3. What Remains of Us 7.7
A Tibetan-Canadian returns to her homeland to smuggle a secret message from the Dalai Lama and to document the occupation and cultural genocide of Tibet by China. 166 votes

4. 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama 7.4
If you could meet one person in the world, who would it be and why? Rick Ray's answer is 'The Dalai Lama.' Filmed during a private visit to his monastery in Dharamsala, India, over the course of several months, it's part biography, part philosophy, part adventure and part politics. Written by Rick Ray Films. 436 votes

5. Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion 7.3
A film about the state of Chinese occupied Tibet and its history of oppression and resistance. 483 votes

6. Unmistaken Child 7.3
In Nepal, a venerable monk, Geshe Lama Konchog, dies and one of his disciples, a youthful monk named Tenzin Zopa, searches for his master's reincarnation. The film follows his search to the Tsum Valley where he finds a young boy of the right age who uncannily responds to Konchog's possessions. Is this the reincarnation of the master? After the boy passes several tests, Tenzin takes him to meet the Dalai Lama. Will the parents agree to let the boy go to the monastery, and, if so, how will the child respond? Central to the film is the relationship the child develops with Tenzin. Written by jhailey@hotmail.com. 476 votes

Continue reading, in Dutch:

25 maart 2015

Koreaanse films

Wat zijn nou de beste Koreaanse films? Dé film die je gezien moet hebben. Voordat ik naar de bioscoop ga of de videotheek, check ik altijd IMDB.

IMDB is een filmsite van Amazon waarop recensies staan en grappige anecdotes (trivia). De betrouwbaarheid is natuurlijk afhankelijk van de hoeveelheid stemmen. Op IMDB kun jij je favoriete film een cijfer geven. Je moet daarvoor wel een account aanmaken.

Hieronder een top 10 - gebaseerd op aantal stemmen (meer dan 5k) en rapportcijfer.

  1. Oldboy (55k, cijfer 8.3)
  2. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (11k, cijfer 8.1 )
  3. Taegukgi (10k, cijfer 8.1)
  4. My Sassy Girl (8k, cijfer 8.1)
  5. Memories of Murder (5k, cijfer 8.1)
  6. Bin jib (9k, cijfer 7.9)
  7. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (10k, cijfer 7.8)
  8. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (9k, cijfer 7.8)
  9. JSA: Joint Security Area (5k, cijfer 7.8)
  10. A Tale of Two Sisters (8k, cijfer 7.5)
Park Chan-wook staat vermeld met vier films, Kim Ki-duk met twee. 

Nog iets noemenswaardigs? De serie Avatar wordt net zoals The Simpsons in Korea getekend. Avatar wordt nu al de beste tekenfilmserie ooit genoemd. Zelf ben ik ook fan, het is zeker voor alle leeftijden geschikt. Noord-Korea zou de animatie voor Disney verzorgen, o.a. de Lion King en Pocahontas. 

Naast films zijn ook Koreaanse drama's een niet te missen fenomeen. Samen met o.a. K-pop staan TV series bekend als de "Korean wave". Over de hele wereld, maar vooral in Azië is dit een belangrijk exportproduct voor Zuid-Korea. 

Update: Ask a Korean!: Ten Most Influential Korean Movies 

Update: Aanraders van Kpop website Soompi, Korean Movies 101. Thrillers, actiefilms, drama's en romantische komedies komen aan bod. 
Update: Veertien Koreaanse mafia films die je gezien moet hebben.

Update: wat zijn de tien best bekeken historische drama's van de afgelopen tien jaar? Volg deze link. De  tien zijn volgen hieronder. Eervolle vermelding voor Huh Joon (1999).
  1. 대장금, Jewel in the Palace (2003)
  2. 주몽, Jumong (The Book of the Three Han) (2006)
  3. 태조왕건, Emperor Wang Geon (2000)
  4. 선덕여왕, Queen Seondeok (2009)
  5. 여인천하, Ladies of the Palace / Women's World (2001)
  6. 추노, Slave Hunters (2010)
  7. 태왕사신기, The Legend (2007)
  8. 야인시대, Rustic Period (2002)
  9. 해신, Emperor of the Sea / Sea God (2004)
  10. 이산, Wind of the Palace (2007)

Update: naast een aantal verschuivingen in de top 10 zijn er twee bijgekomen. Dit zijn namelijk:

Nog een film die de moeite waard is:
Update: Roaring Currents / The Admiral (7.1)

Lees verder:

28 juli 2011

Korea VII

Update 29 juli: Een lijst van *dingen* die ik ga missen volgt zo. Warme herinneringen en relaties vind ik moeilijk om in woorden uit te drukken. Dus, als je dit leest: je bent enkel een gedachte van me verwijderd en ik draag je met me mee in mijn hart! Online blijf ik natuurlijk ook bereikbaar. So long: Arierang, perenboompjes, fiets, kosmische lach, Ajax, boerenkool, multiculturalisme, analyse, goudsalami, laagdrempeligheid, grachtenpand, roti, sarcasme, AT5, kraanwater, FunX en de Nederlandse taal. Till we meet again..!

Foto: MorBCN

I'm going, going, back, back to 한국, 한국! (extended version) ♫ (Vrij naar The Notorious B.I.G.)

Binnenkort is het zover. Voor de zevende keer ga ik naar Korea. Voor onbepaalde tijd. Eind augustus begint mijn taalcursus aan Seoul National University Language Education Institute, SNU LEI. Daarvoor probeer ik nog een paar weken te backpacken door India en Nepal.

안녕히 계세요. Stay in peace. Blijf in vrede. (Wordt vervolgd.)

12 juni 2011

Korea VI

Ben voor de zesde keer naar Korea geweest. Nieuwe technische snufjes? Nu kun je met je mobiel ook in de winkel betalen. Er zijn meer HDTV kanalen en is er ook al 3D TV. Internetten doe je met WiBro 4G. (Dus meer TV-kijkende mensen in de metro.) Hieronder een verslag van mijn reis.

Zondag 22 mei: Via Helsinki naar Seoul. Op het vliegveld kun je naar de sauna. (Alleen op de heenweg, voor lange afstandsvluchten.)

Maandag 23 mei: Opgehaald door jongste oom. Naar kantoor in Cheongna. Onderweg langs ons dorp. Het huis van mijn ouders is gesloopt. In de buurt wordt een brug gebouwd. Naar ander kantoor (family registration), Woori en weer LH. Naar huis van oma om te eten en overnachten. Oudste oom komt langs. Samen met hem 's avonds in het dorpje rondgelopen. Op bezoek bij een oma, haar zoon en gezin. Zoon van oudste oom komt ons met de auto ophalen. Zijn dochters en vrouw komen later kip eten.

Dinsdag 24 mei: Naar Seogu met jongste oom. Met de metro naar Hongdae (geen yeogwan) en Shinchon. 's Middags weer naar dorpje, naar het graf van mijn vader en zijn oma. In het hotel kimchi chigae eten en naar de jimjilbang.

Woensdag 25 mei: Naar G.O.A.'L. Vertaalster kan telefoon regelen bij SK. Met G. afspreken.

Donderdag 26 mei: Naar de film, Kung Fu Panda II.

Vrijdag 27 mei: Naar de kapper.

Zaterdag 28 mei: Met koffer en tas naar Seoul station in kluisjes. Naar de picknick van Doongji in Hangang park. 's Avonds weer naar Incheon. Oudste oom heeft een nieuwe woning, zogenaamde villa. Met zijn gezin eend en samgyetang eten.

Zondag 29 mei: Aangetrouwde oom en jongste oom komen langs. Tang Soo Yook eten. Met aangetrouwde oom naar zijn familie in Gimpo. Met de bus naar Shinchon.

Maandag 30 mei: Via Seoul station, naar Daegu (dong) met de KTX. Met metro en bus naar Haeinsa. Tripitaka Koreana (één van de tien werelderfgoederen op de Werelderfgoedlijst van de UNESCO) gezien. Opgeven voor templestay.

Dinsdag 31 mei: Om 3:00 in de ochtend opstaan. Ontbijt is vanaf 6:00. Hiken op Gayasan. Om 19:00 dienst bijwonen.

Woensdag 1 juni: Terug naar Seoul, met de stoptrein.

Donderdag 2 juni: Afspreken met vrienden.

Vrijdag 3 juni: Naar Jamshil en Gwacheon. Afspreken met vrienden.

Zaterdag 4 juni: Naar Gimpo.

Zondag 5 juni: Terug naar Shinchon.

Maandag 6 juni: Het is Memorial Day. Hiken op Ahnsan in Shinchon. Vanaf de top kun je tot aan Gangnam kijken. Langs Bongwonsa, hoofdtempel van de Taego Orde. Het jaarlijkse ritueel Yeongsanjae is er aan de gang. Afspreken met vrienden.

Dinsdag 7 juni: Van alles en nog wat.

Woensdag 8 juni: Naar homestay adres.

Donderdag 9 juni: Naar Ewha en Dongdaemun (Doota).

Vrijdag 10 juni: Naar Jamshil en Gangnam.

Zaterdag 11 juni: Terug naar Nederland.

Lees verder:
Korea V
Korea IV
Korea III
My year abroad - Korea II
Rootsreis - Korea I

29 april 2011

Top 15 Bollywood films

Het Indiase Hollywood is gevestigd in Bombay - wat nu Mumbay heet. (Er worden in India ook buiten Bollywood films gemaakt.) Wat zijn nu de films die je gezien moet hebben? Hieronder de titels met de hoogste cijfers op IMDb en minimaal 5.000 stemmen. Onder de originele titel staat de Engelse naam. Wees niet verrast als er opeens massaal wordt gezongen en gedanst. Caveat emptor: sommige films duren 2,5 tot 3 uur.

 Foto: meanestindian (flickr)
  1. 3 Idiots (8.3)
  2. Rang De Basanti (8.3)
    • Paint It Saffron
  3. Taare Zameen Par (8.3)
    • Like Stars on Earth
  4. Swades: We, the People (8.3)
    • Homeland 
  5. Dil Chahta Hai (8.2)
    • Do Your Thing
  6. Andaz Apna Apna (8.2)
    • To Each, His Own Style
  7. Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (8.1)
  8. Sholay (8.0)
    • Embers
  9. Black (8.0)
  10. Chak De India! (8.0)
    • Come on! India
  11. Pather Panchali (8.0)
    • Song of the Little Road
  12. Dev.D (8.0)
  13. The Fall (7.9)
  14. Lage Raho Munna Bhai (7.9) 
    • Carry on Munna Brother
  15. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (7.8)
    • The Big Hearted Will Take the Bride
De meeste films zijn de afgelopen tien jaar gemaakt. 3 Idiots en Sholay waren ook enorme kaskrakers. Krrish was te zien in Nederlandse bioscopen. A.R. Rahman componeerde muziek voor drie films. Rajkumar Hirani en Ashutosh Gowariker regisseerden elk twee films. 

"King" Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) speelde in Swades: We, the People, Chak De India!, en Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. Superster Aamir Hussain Khan (SRK zijn "aartsrivaal" - geen familie) schitterde in zes films. 

Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India was genomineerd voor een Oscar. Slumdog Millionaire (8.3) en Gandhi (8.2) waren buitenlandse producties. Allebei hebben ze acht Oscars gewonnen.