Watch Little Buddha
- 2 hr 20 min
Little Buddha is a 1993 movie directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and starring Keanu Reeves, Bridget Fonda, and Ruocheng Ying. The film is a work of fiction, but it is grounded in spiritual traditions and historical events relating to Buddhism. The movie tells two interwoven stories: one set in contemporary Seattle, Washington, and the other in ancient India. In Seattle, a young boy named Jesse (Alex Wiesendanger) is experiencing recurring dreams and visions of a world far different from his suburban American life. His parents, Dean (Chris Isaak) and Lisa (Bridget Fonda), are perplexed by his behavior and seek the help of Tibetan Lama Norbu (Ruocheng Ying), who they believe to be the reincarnation of a great Buddhist teacher.
Lama Norbu is convinced that Jesse is the reincarnation of his own beloved teacher, the Dalai Lama's spiritual master, and he embarks on a quest to bring Jesse to the Himalayas to be tested and trained in the ways of Buddhism. Meanwhile, we see flashbacks to ancient India, where we learn about the life of Prince Siddhartha (Keanu Reeves), who would later become known as Gautama Buddha.
We follow Siddhartha's journey from pampered prince to spiritual seeker, as he encounters sickness, old age, and death and seeks a way to find lasting happiness and fulfillment. Guided by teachers and ultimately finding enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, Siddhartha becomes a legendary figure and the founder of Buddhism.
Back in Seattle, Dean, Lisa, and Jesse travel to Bhutan to meet with Lama Norbu and participate in the spiritual rituals of Buddhism. The film contrasts the modern American sensibilities with the traditional Tibetan customs and beliefs, as Dean and Lisa struggle to find common ground with the devout Lama Norbu and his students.
Little Buddha aims to convey the importance of cultural exchange and spiritual exploration, as well as the human quest for meaning and understanding in a confusing and sometimes chaotic world. It provides a glimpse into the customs and beliefs of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as the story of Siddhartha and the origins of Buddhism in India.
The performances in the film are compelling and engaging, with Keanu Reeves embodying the quiet and introspective Siddhartha and Ruocheng Ying bringing a sense of reverence and wisdom to the role of Lama Norbu. Bridget Fonda and Chris Isaak, as the American parents struggling to understand their son's spiritual journey, provide a relatable perspective for Western audiences.
The cinematography is stunning, with breathtaking shots of the Himalayan landscapes and glimpses into the intricate rituals of Tibetan Buddhism. The music, composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto, adds a sense of ethereal beauty to the film, further enhancing its spiritual themes.
Overall, Little Buddha is a thought-provoking and visually stunning film that presents a unique perspective on the human quest for understanding and transcendence. Its message of cross-cultural exchange and spiritual exploration is as relevant today as it was when the film was released nearly three decades ago.
Little Buddha is a 1994 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 20 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.1.