The clouds’ dark shadows spread like a conquering beast across the mountains of Tibet. The prayer flags whip in the face of the red sun sinking in a broodingly black sky.
The artful cinematography of “When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun” transfixes the viewer, using visual metaphors to trigger insightful reflections on the complications of the more than 50-year struggle of the displaced Tibetan people.
A young boy, representing the present marginalized generation of exiled Tibetans, tells how his father used to tell him stories of their land, a tranquil, peaceful place to live. He explains how “everything got spoiled” when the Chinese took over.
The cinematography for this trailer is outstanding. The editing is exceptionally well done, with Tibetan chanting, a cacophony of rich colors and expansively beautiful scenery.
Spokespeople weave a story of frustration and longing. One young man says, “I am a son of that Tibet. And that Tibet is calling, ‘Come on my son.’”
These comments are woven luxuriously into a beautiful art form. Fabulous editing. Outstanding musical score and arresting cinematography.
The trailer indicates that the scope of this chronicle is vast, covering the history and current problems and tensions of the Tibetan people. It also hints at a purpose. Is the filmmaker working to not only record the current feelings of the exiles, but also to incite wider support for a more aggressive kind of solution?
The trailer predicts the film will go behind the non-violent religious rhetoric the world identifies with the Tibetan people and their leader, the 14th Dalai Lama.
The filmmaker, Dirk Simon, has written that “the young generation of Tibetans is caught between the stereotype of peaceful Buddhists and desire to fight for freedom.”
Interestingly, since Simon, the writer and director, escaped from East Germany at age 21, before the Wall fell, there are comparisons of present-day Chinese to the Germans of 1939 with their arrogance in being a supreme race. Perhaps it is no coincidence that he picked this subject, the frustration of a people divided, and projects a hope that the western world has long lost.
He includes a quote from one of the younger Tibetans, “To get something, we need to have action.”
What kind of action can this group of people have against China?
What countries could possibly afford to support these exiles in their crusade for a free Tibet?
What exactly do the Tibetans want to do? Is there a feasible avenue of political compromise?
I have lots of questions and I’m not sure they will be answered in this film or in my lifetime. However, I am absolutely sure I will see this film because from my experiences with documentaries, this looks like the most artful and beautiful of cinematic expressions. Plus, a big bonus – it looks like I’ll learn a bit.
Watch this film win award after award and end up on the 2010 short Oscar list.
Director: Dirk Simon
Writer: Dirk Simon
Cast: Richard Gere, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 14th Dalai Lama, some of the most prominent Chinese contemporary artists and all the key figures of the exiled Tibetan freedom movement and their followers.
Release: Feb. 5, 2010
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