The Buddha, the new film from award-winning filmmaker David Grubin (JFK, RFK, LBJ, FDR, Napoleon, Jewish Americans), premiered at the IBFF’s film series at the Smithsonian on March 12th and is now in its broadcast cycle on the US PBS network. (Check local listings for air times).
The film, narrated by Richard Gere, tells the story of the Buddha through ancient artwork that depicts the various stages of Prince Siddhartha’s journey, contemporary animation that vividly portrays the legends surrounding the Buddha, and contemporary footage of northern India, where many rituals from the Buddha’s time are still practiced today.
Experts on the Buddha, representing a variety of disciplines, relate the key episodes of the Buddha’s life and reflect on what his journey means for us today. They include His Holiness the Dalai Lama; poets Jane Hirshfield and W.S. Merwin; scholars Robert Thurman, Kevin Trainor and Dr. Max Moerman; astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan; and psychiatrist Mark Epstein, as well as practicing Buddhist monastics.
“Buddhism is growing more and more popular in America,” said Grubin. “But the Buddha himself remains a mysterious, exotic figure, the founder of a religion in a different key. The Buddha never claimed to be God, or his emissary on earth. He said only that in a world of unavoidable pain and suffering, he had found a serenity which others could find too. In our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion, the Buddha’s teachings have particular relevance.”