TIBETAN WARRIOR: A Film Review (Edited)
Published on tibetsun.com
June 28th, 2016
After seeing the impressive trailer of Dodo Hunziker’s Tibetan Warrior, I certainly had to watch the film. Also, Loten Namling, my favourite, a well-known Tibetan singer is, featured in it. Although it took a while to make the movie available to the world audience, I am glad that I could finally lay my hands on Netflix and enjoyed it thoroughly.
The hour-and-twenty-four-minute-long film tells the real event based story of a Switzerland Tibetan musician and singer, his frustrations, aspirations, and struggle while the whole world continues to overlook what is happening inside Tibet and choose to shake hands with China. Tibetans behind the Himalayas are being oppressed to the point that many of them now resort to self-immolation, an unimaginable form of protest that the world has never seen at this magnitude before.
The film primarily rides on Loten Namling’s journey on foot with a coffin from Bern to Geneva, which is about 350 kilometres apart. To Loten, the coffin symbolises the slow death of his country, and his purpose of the arduous journey is to educate people about Tibet. The film also highlights many aspects of Loten's personal life, including two beautiful kids and their mother. Loten’s strong commitment to do something meaningful for his dying country is evident from the fact that both of his children having born and raised in a non-Tibetan community, converse quite comfortably in Tibetan.
The film carries some scenes that will surely melt one’s heart. Perhaps the best among all is that of Loten receiving the remains of his late mother from his step-sister. He crushes the bones and offers the pieces into a small stream in upper Dharamshala in the hope that the deceased may one day be reborn as a Tibetan and serve the unfulfilled wishes of HH the Dalai Lama.
Loten’s meeting with HH the Dalai Lama, is also equally powerful and significant. When he asked His Holiness for guidance and advice about what one should do to highlight the deteriorating situation inside Tibet, the Dalai Lama’s advice to “be realistic, and more importantly, do not hate Chinese” is perhaps the least expected advice a freedom fighter could ever receive. But His Holiness's words of wisdom make sense as violence and hatred may put a full stop to the Tibetan movement and activism that has been building up for the last many decades. Moreover, China is looking out for every opportunity to label exile Tibetans as terrorists.
Loten’s confrontation with Swiss Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, who favours economic engagement with China, is as depressing as it is funny. Needless to say, the minister’s lame protestations of how he cares dearly about Tibetan people and their human rights does not make much sense to Loten. If there is any comedic character in the film as such, Johann perfectly fits the slot.
Meeting the famed Franz Treichler of Young Gods is also a much-needed morale booster for the tired and weary Loten on his long journey.
Loten’s meetings with then Tibetan Exile Parliament speaker Penpa Tsering, poet and activist Lukar Jam, Tibetan Youth Congress President Tenzin Jigme, and Miss Tibet organiser Lobsang Wangyal highlight the frustration that has been building up throughout his life as an asylee. In fact, everyone is frustrated when there is no tangible solution to Tibet’s issue for the last more than five decades now. Moreover, Tibetans who are living on foreign soils are polarised with two dominant ideologies to resolve their issue: independence v/s autonomy for Tibet.
One can easily tell that filmmaker Dodo didn’t stage any of the scenes as nowadays many filmmakers stage and manipulate scenes and shots to cement their narrative and for that matter, I applaud him for his genuine and unbiased treatment of the subject at hand. Dodo’s smooth cinematography and well-paced editing, complemented by Franz Treichler’s soul-stirring music, keep viewers engaged throughout.
An interesting watch, highly commended! More about the film is at TibetanWarrior.com.
Co-Director & Co-Producer