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Rated NR · 94 minutes · 2006

In 1979 British documentarian Graham Coleman went to India and Nepal to chronicle the rituals and meditative lifestyle of Tibetan monks displaced by the Chinese occupation. The resulting film was a nearly-four-hour trilogy that, according to Coleman, was shown only in British cinemas in separate, scrambled sections. This year's model is realigned, decked out with cheesy digital "visions" of sacred figures, and graced with new subtitles, some of them simply transcribing spiritual text over silent praying. On the plus side, Coleman's cut almost 100 minutes -- the mind boggles -- but retained his three-act structure, and the upshot resembles an exhaustive BBC primer in Buddhist practice, with Coleman's narration dripping with awe and the chanted, heavily encoded metaphysics all translated so faithfully in titles you'd think they were endless spasms of Surrealist automatic writing. As the monks themselves threaten to nod off, the film's impressive narcotic effect enters the bloodstream -- or so it may seem only for the unenlightened like me.
Director: Graham Coleman

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