Orientalist Commercializations: Tibetan Buddhism in American Popular Film

  • Author(s): Eve L. Mullen
  • When: 1998-10
  • Where: Journal of Religion and Film
  • Many contemporary American popular films are presenting us with particular views of Tibetan Buddhism and culture. Unfortunately, the views these movies present are often misleading. In this essay I will identify four false characterizations of Tibetan Buddhism, as described by Tibetologist Donald Lopez, characterizations that have been refuted by post-colonial scholarship. I will then show how these misleading characterizations make their way into three contemporary films, Seven Years in Tibet, Kundun and Little Buddha. Finally, I will offer an explanation for the American fascination with Tibet as Tibetan culture is represented in these films.

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