The Tibetan Book of the Dead
Directed by Barrie McLean
Death is real, it comes without warning and it cannot be escaped. An ancient source of strength and guidance, The Tibetan Book of the Dead remains an essential teaching originating in the spiritual cultures of the Himalayas. Narrated by Leonard Cohen, this enlightening two-part series explores the sacred text and boldly visualizes the afterlife according to its profound wisdom.
Part 1: A Way of Life reveals the history of The Tibetan Book of the Dead and examines its traditional use in northern India, as well as its acceptance in Western hospices. Shot over a four-month period, the film contains footage of the rites and liturgies for a deceased Ladakhi elder and includes an interview with the Dalai Lama, who shares his views on the book's meaning and importance.
Part 2: The Great Liberation follows an old lama and his novice monk as they guide a Himalayan villager into the afterlife using readings from The Tibetan Book of the Dead. The soul's 49-day journey towards rebirth is envisioned through actual photography of rarely seen Buddhist rituals, interwoven with groundbreaking animation by internationally acclaimed filmmaker Ishu Patel.
"Leonard Cohen's narration, it must be said straight off, was perfect. No one else could have succeeded so brilliantly at calmly and richly presenting this series."
- Canadian Content
"The Tibetan Book of the Dead is a marvelous documentary creation. It is excellently written, and Leonard Cohen's narration suits the theme beautifully. The cinematography is breathtaking: snow-capped, mighty mountains pinpricked by isolated towns provide suitable images of insignificant humanity in a vast, lonely, and hostile universe. Yet this view is juxtaposed with a sensitive portrayal of Tibetan Buddhism's central tenet: To seek truth and practice compassion is the meaning and purpose of life. The characters of the lamas - filled with joy and compassion - imbue the film with the light of their eternal hopes for the world. This is a film that demands multiple viewing. Highly recommended."
- CM Magazine