Oddly, this film does something that no film (or any televisual work) has ever done: make George W. Bush seem like a thoughtful, caring and, most surprising of all, a member of the English speaking world. But this documentary, The Unwinking Gaze, is not about old Georgey boy, it’s about the Dalai Lama.
More specifically, it concerns three years of his life as he travels the world meeting various dignitaries and officials being a generally loveable bloke. Filmmaker Joshua Dugdale tries to display the Lamster objectively, opting to dispense with narration (apart from the introduction explaining his actions) and lets the images and words speaks for themselves. A bold and much appreciated move, in my opinion.
The Lam-man comes off genially, always laughing and sharing the lurve whilst never really revealing much more of his personality (though we do find out he was a “lazy student” – cue more guffaws from the peacemaker). From a political point of view, we are occasionally denied access to meetings and the whole Belgium farago (where a trip to the country was canceled when the King took a journey to China – both sides claim the other called it off) could have been better explored by the filmmaker.
It’s not all plain sailing for the religious leader as there are contradictions present. He claims not to be a healer yet that’s exactly how the Dalai Lama is viewed in his own land. Again this is not broached by the filmmaker.
The Unwinking Gaze is a fascinating, if uneventful, watch. The unprecedented access of the cameras shows us a peaceful man with a robe in a modern world with suits and how his team interact. But if you were unclear on the whole issue of Tibet and China, you’ll not find any answers here. In fact, it presents more questions. Not to mention a glimpse of Richard Gere….
Extras Included is some extra footage of Dally in conversation with Joshua Dugdale which gives you more of a flavour of the man (though no real insight) and there’s also some in depth analysis and history which, although worthy, is incredibly dry. Hardy inspiring.