Film Double Bill: Khyentse Norbu

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(Dir Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)

Natural Born Killers

(Dir Oliver Stone, 1994)

I AM a Buddhist, supposedly a Buddhist priest, and I like because it is a movie with a spiritual way of looking at things. It's about a man who is a saint and doesn't fit in with the rest of the world. People don't understand him; he thinks, acts and looks at the world differently. It is a very interesting subject, described in Buddhism as going beyond the rational.

We are accustomed to looking at things as society expects us to, and especially in films nowadays. People seem to prefer Hollywood films to independents, but I think mainstream films deprive us. Imagine you are looking at a room through a window, but there are many other perspectives - like the view from the door.

This movie shows that if you adopt a different way of looking at life then you must be clever, otherwise you are not accepted by society. The saint believes in a paradise and convinces two of his friends to go there. But this heaven is an abandoned factory, and his two friends begin to think he is a nut - even though what he says is profound. For us, heaven is not an abandoned factory. It is a state of mind.

A fundamental belief in Buddhism is that you must look at reality rather than live in a fantasy world. In fantasy you will find depression, fear and anxiety. Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers is a wonderful film because it touches a certain reality that goes on in our minds. It also portrays the reality of America so well; how it works, how it thinks, how it glorifies violence, and the depression and abuse. The film feels very modern, it is shot in a fast-moving way.

I understand why the movie was criticised, although I see violence in film as a question of chicken and egg: Does Natural Born Killers provoke violence, or is it the writer, the director, the audience, who are violent? Perhaps the problem lies with people who don't see the reality but dwell on the fantasy world of the film. Maybe that's how they miss the message.

Both movies portray a reality: one in a more practical way and the other metaphorically. Although a director can't deny fantasy altogether. I always feel amazed at how speaks the normal human language as well. To be artistic is one thing, but to be commercially good and entertaining is equally important. Otherwise, you only give half the message.