I'm not sure exactly why, but it turns out I have a soft spot for documentaries created by Dawn Engle. To be fair, I love pretty much any and all documentaries I can get my eyes on - but save a few quirks, I find Engle's productions to always be top notch. I always try and make sure to be one to view them, so the question is this... am I biased? Perhaps a little but honestly? A review is a written testimonial from the person writing it. If I happen to love what I've seen, and am writing about it? I can think of nothing more honest than that. The only difference between my opinion and yours is the source - and "The Dalai Lama - Scientist" is yet another winning production in my eyes.
So what exactly do we have here? There are loads of docs out there featuring the Dalai Lama - many from huge well established and respected institutions. Even just watching this film, I was reminded of just how much screen time, mainly television, this man has received throughout his life. Engle however, has zeroed in on the less spiritual aspects of his life. Science. Huh? What? That's right. Traditional science. The older generations probably remember the Dalai Lama craved scientific knowledge, but my generation and even the current one - probably has no idea. When we say Dalai Lama, we think spirituality and peace - but that's truly not all there is. Not by a long shot.
So here it is. A biopic of the Dalai Lama zeroing in on science. And I mean... there's a lot of stuff here discussed. Right down to the big bang and quantum mechanics. Those who imagine the Dalai Lama as strictly spiritual - will be in for a shock. What's even more interesting? It's not like this stuff was a secret! His investigative approach to science and spirituality were, and are, very public and deeply interesting. And so much has been filmed and aired - it's crazy to think that I've never realized his interests in the sciences were so deep. Seriously, any fan of celebrity bios will really enjoy this film. As for the die hard film buffs of the world? I'm almost certain there's plenty here you didn't know.
Now, to be totally fair, I did have a few slight issues with this film. I use the term slight, because there's nothing to even remotely stop me from enjoying my time spent watching. First and foremost? The background music. It's darn near constant and slowly began to wear at me. This isn't a new issue for me, and not restricted to this film alone. The real issue is that it's very lulling and at some point, began to make me sleepy. Adding so much relaxing music to a film that already feels a little long is a tough combination to ignore.
And yes reader. "The Dalai Lama - Scientist" does feel a little long. The hour and a half length isn't the main culprit here. It's the music, as I wrote, and the never ending barrage of old clips. The old clips are what make the bulk of the film, mixed with interview segments from the Dalai Lama himself. It's just a lot of information in a short time - and I did find myself getting tired at about the seventy, seventy five minute mark.
There's a lot here. A lot to take in and process. It may take some folks two sit downs to watch this entire piece. However, the important thing is this... you will come back to watch the rest of it. If you're a fan of documentaries that is. Feeling a little long is not the be all, end all of a successful film. Plenty of amazing movies are so long... many of us do it in two sittings. The bottom line is this - if you're a fan of biographies or documentaries... you'll enjoy this one. No question at all. A solid three and a half stars.