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My Reincarnation - Movie Review - 2010

Buddhist Genealogy

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


My Reincarnation - Movie Review - 2010

My Reincarnation - Yeshi and his father, Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche

Zohe Film Productions
My Reincarnation is an insider look at Buddhist genealogy from the perspective of filmmaker Jennifer Fox, who has followed Tibetan spiritual master Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche for twenty years, both personally and on film.

Fox tells the story of how the master, resettled in Italy after fleeing the Chinese occupation of Tibet, brings Tibetan Buddhist practice to the West, developing a study center where he teaches a large international community of followers. More problematical for the master, however, is teaching his half-Italian son, Yeshi, who was recognized as the reincarnation of a recently deceased Tibetan spiritual master but who, as a young man, is more inclined to pursue the lifestyle of Italian youths than to follow his father's spiritual path.

Fox's familiarity with her subject and subjects gave her unique access and a profound understanding which she generously shares with audiences.

Understanding Another Culture

Because of their larger than life lineage and the spiritual values they represent, the developing father and son drama between Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche and Yeshi,takes on almost mythological proportions. It is a fascinating, timeless, and almost other worldly tale, a story that is cloaked in mysticism, steeped in rich tradition and ripe with beliefs that might seem strange to some. Yet Fox, with her subtle and sublime vision, presents the grandeur in an entirely human way that everyone can understand and identify with.

It's not that Tibetan spirituality and ritual are ever excluded from the picture. The intimate quality of the film gives us unique opportunities to observe Tibetan Buddhist ritual, and gives us understanding of the core values of the practice and how they are applied in today's world. The Dalai Lama appears in the film, as do other Tibetan spiritual masters. And, their teachings and world view are respectfully represented throughout.

As a result, the this worldly story of Tibetan politics is presented, as well, as a contextual reference for the personal drama that's played out in the film. As part of this story of father and son, we learn more about the Chinese occupation of Tibet, the persecution of Tibetan spiritual leaders and oppression of Buddhist tradition and practice, and the international movement to restore the Dalai Lama to authority in Tibet and preserve Tibetan culture.

A Masterful Teaching

My Reincarnation takes place on a grand scale, with Fox following her subjects around the globe. Their journey is depicted with beautiful cinematography that sweeps across broad landscapes and captures intimate moments with equal skill and grace.

Fox, who teaches filmmaking in addition to making films of her own, has done a masterful job in My Reincarnation of integrating her keen observations with her motivating beliefs and values. As filmmaker, Fox is an incessantly insightful fly on the wall, never focusing attention on herself, but never hiding her presence and identity, either. As a result, she is a masterful teacher, and My Reincarnation is a masterful teaching.

Although, as with all documentaries, the larger story of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism continues to unfold, this moving chapter about father and son does have a beginning, middle and an end. And, the ending is one of hope. But, no spoilers here. If you want to find how how it's all resolved, you'll have to see the film.

As a treatise on the ways in which Buddhist teachings are handed down from one generation to the next, My Reincarnation has a remarkable companion in Unmistaken Child, a documentary in which a Buddhist monk searches for the reincarnation of his recently deceased spiritual master. Like Fox, filmmaker Nati Baratz is a practicing Buddhist.

My Reincarnation - Yeshi and devotees in Tibet

Zohe Film Productions

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Film Details:

  • My Reincarnation
  • Director: Jennifer Fox
  • US Theatrical Release Date: October 28, 2011 (limited)
  • Running Time: 82 mins.
  • Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
  • Location: Italy, Tibet and other countries
  • Language: English
  • Production Country: USA
  • Production Company: Zohe Film Productions
  • Official Website
  • Trailer

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