Little Buddha

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +2

Content: +3

In the far away kingdom of Bhutan, northeast of India, Buddhist monk Lama Norbu (Ying Ruocheng) believes that an important deceased Buddhist leader may have been reincarnated as a young boy in Seattle. He and his Buddhist companions travel to Seattle and go to the home of the boy, Jesse Conrad (Alex Wiesendanger). They tell his parents, Dean and Lisa (Chris Isaak and Bridget Fonda) of their belief. As expected, Dean and Lisa are skeptical, but eventually Jesse and his dad travel to Bhutan to investigate this possibility. While there, they learn the customs and beliefs of the Buddhist monks, and also learn that two native children are also thought to be possible reincarnates of the venerable lama. Along the way, Jesse learns about the life of Buddha himself. The film intercuts Jesse's contemporary story with flashbacks of the life of Prince Siddhartha (Keanu Reeves), who became Buddha, founder of Buddhism in 500 B.C. The adventures of Jesse and Dean in Bhutan and descriptions of the life of Buddha make for an interesting movie. The film has stunning visual surroundings, although sunlight rarely is seen. Unfortunately, the story is rather bland and emotionless, but will appeal to those who enjoy unique stories about foreign places and religions.

In LITTLE BUDDHA, Director Bernard Bertolucci has created a gentle, sensitive film devoid of the offensive elements found in many contemporary films. The only remotely questionable incidents are a passionate kissing scene between Dean and Lisa and a brief glimpse of the baby Buddha's genitals. Bertolucci has publicly indicated he is favorably inclined toward Buddhism. However, the film does not overtly encourage Buddhism, and Dean and Lisa never embrace its central theme of reincarnation. It does present Buddhism as a religion of compassion and goodness. Depictions from the life of Prince Siddhartha are patterned after the life of Buddha, but are not a historical biography of the spiritual leader. The film will be informative for those not familiar with Buddhism and the scenes of Buddhist ceremonies and practices are instructive. Although Buddhism is presented in a neutral manner, LITTLE BUDDHA may develop sympathy for the religion which emphasizes spiritual enlightenment, the alleviation of pain and suffering and a respect for all of creation.

Preview Reviewer: John Evans
Miramax Films, 18 E. 48th St., NY, NY 10017

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: Exclamatory once

Violence: None

Sex: None

Nudity: Once (baby's genitals)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Once (husband and wife kiss passionately)

Drugs: None

Other: None

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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