How do you make a film about ancient Tibetan history and legend, while keeping it relevant to a modern audience?It helps if, as is the case with Milarepa: Magician, Murderer, Saint, your director is a Tibetan Buddhist lama, and you have over 50 Tibetan monks in your cast and crew -- and a story full of human drama that centers around a fascinating character.The film tells the story of Milarepa, an 11th century yogi and poet who rose from a tragic youth and a period spent studying black arts so that he could exact murderous revenge, who went on to achieve "enlightenment" and become one of the most famous of the Tibetan Saints.
storyline stickspretty close to Tibetan Buddhist legend: Milarepa,
born as Thopaga (played by various actors as he ages, and by monk
Jamyang Lodro as an adult) to a wealthy merchant family, enjoys a
pampered existence in his youth, until his father suddenly falls ill
and dies, leaving his estate in trust with his brother to hold for
Thopaga until the young boy comes of age to marry his cousin, to whom
he is betrothed.The uncle, a greedy and deceitful man, steals
Thopaga's estate and forces the boy, his mother and his younger sister
to live in poverty, surviving off scraps.
Thopaga's mother, Kargyen
(Kelsang Chukie Tethong, who also provides some of the vocals for the
soundtrack) is bitter and angry at the unfairness of her
brother-in-law's actions, but is powerless to change things.When
Thopaga comes of age, his mother throws a small party and invites his
uncle and aunt and all the villagers, so that she can askthe uncle
publicly to return her son's estate now that he is of age to marry his
cousin, Zesay.Kargyen thinks that, if she asks in a public setting,
the villagers will back up her claim, and her brother-in-law will have
no choice but to return to his nephew that which is rightfully his. The
uncle refuses, though, claiming there was never an estate, and Thopaga
and his family are left destitute with no hope any longer that their
situation will ever improve. None of the villagers will go against the
uncle, who is now wealthy and powerful because of his treachery.
Seeking revenge, Thopaga's
mother urges him to seek out a famous sorceror and study the black arts
under him, to acquire the knowledge needed to come back and exact
revenge upon the uncle and all the villagers. Young Thopaga, feeling
helpless and angry, and not knowing what else to do, follows his
mother's advice and seekso......
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