DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese
PRODUCERS: Barbara De Fina for Cappa/DeFina Productions
SCREENPLAY: Melissa Mathison
CAST: all non-Westerners
- "Kundun", which means the presence of a great spiritual master,
was initiated by Melissa Mathison about six years ago. She brought the
idea to the Dalai Lama and it was agreed that she would write the story
of His Holiness and bring it to film. With the first draft, she flew to
Dharamsala to read and discuss the script. Mathison said, "His Holiness
was a real collaborator with accuracy, detail, personalities, characters,
and emotion. I used his phrases also for dialogue." Every draft was
shown to the Dalai Lama. In 1993 she sent the screenplay to Martin Scorsese.
He was attracted to the story for its portrayal of non-violence.
- "Kundun" is a story of unbending will and profound religious
commitment set against a spectacular physical backdrop and compelling world
politics. The film chronicles the young life of the Dalai Lama and his
extraordinary circumstances; He was chosen as the reincarnation of a Buddhist
deity and educated in the great historical religious teachings of Tibetan
Buddhism. There are four Tibetans who play the part of the Dalai Lama at
various stages of his life; all actors in the film are non-Westerners.
- Scorsese had originally planned to shoot in India, in Dharamsala and
in Ladakh, with the Himalayas as backdrop; yet the Indians delayed permission
to the point at which Morocco, in particular Ouarzazate, was chosen for
the filming location. Ouarzazate has been the location of many films such
as "Laurence of Arabia"; the landscape is open and dramatic,
perfect to render the extreme wonder of the Tibetan high plateaus which
are said to be the 'roof of the world'.
- An auspicious sign greeted the film-makers on their last day on the
set, out in the gateway to the Sahara, it snowed roughly three inches -
this against big palm trees - to softly blanket the scene and start the
journey to bring this tremendous story to the public.
- In October of last year Chinese authorities warned Walt Disney executives
that the studio's role in a feature film about the life of the Dalai Lama
would force China to reconsider Disney's extensive plans for investment
in China's entertainment market. "We are resolutely opposed to the
making of this movie," said Kong Min, an official at the Film Bureau
of the Ministry of Radio Film and Television. "It is intended to glorify
the Dalai Lama, so it is an interference in China's internal affairs."
- Disney officials said they would follow through with their plans to
release the film in the United States despite such warnings, and they did.
China's concern is understandable since the story of Tibet does not reflect
well on China and it creates even more public interest in the Dalai Lama,
who is arguably the most powerful man in the world in terms of moral authority.
- "Kundun" is a Christmas 1997 release. See a preview here
- Walt Disney Co./Touchstone Pictures is the intellectual
property holder of the movie "Kundun" and holds copyright over
the movie, character and storyline. ON... makes no claim to the rights
of any of these items and has no intention to infringe on the rights of
Walt Disney Co./Touchstone Pictures