directed by Werner Herzog
by Travis Mackenzie Hoover I was initially bewildered by the substitution of this film for the cancelled Bus 174--how could a film by Werner Herzog, one of the big names of the German New Wave, have not been initially selected for a festival that could use the publicity? As it turns out, there is a reason: Despite some unusually good intentions (for Herzog, anyway), his documentary is disorganized and lacking in rigour. The film plays as sort of What I Did On My Spiritual Vacation, with Herzog visiting various Buddhist holy events as people pray, listen to the Dalai Lama, make sand mandalas, and go on gruelling holy pilgrimages. All the while, he explains in the most rudimentary fashion what's going on, and features a couple of wholly uninformative interviews with the Dalai Lama himself. Another filmmaker would have tried to evoke the spiritual journey of these people, but Herzog, strangely, isn't that creative this time out, and simply stands on the margins and films. The results are probably old news to the committed Buddhist, and definitely tedious to the uninitiated.