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WHEEL OF TIME

Director: WERNER HERZOG

GERMANY • 2004 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • DIGITAL VIDEO • 81 MIN


WERNER HERZOG’S INTEREST IN THE COMPLEMENTARY RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL WORLDS FORMS THE BEDROCK OF WHEEL OF TIME, HIS STERLING DOCUMENTARY ABOUT A 2002 GATHERING OF OVER 500,000 TIBETAN BUDDHISTS IN BODH GAYA, INDIA (AS WELL AS A LATER, SMALLER ASSEMBLY IN AUSTRIA) FOR THE SCARED KALACHAKRA RITUAL PRESIDED OVER BY THE DALAI LAMA.
Allowed seemingly unfettered access to this holy ceremony – in which an intricate sand painting called the mandala (a.k.a. the wheel of time) is created one coloured grain of sand at a time—Herzog sets about crafting a respectful depiction of religious zealotry through his typical brand of extravagantly exaggerated narration, interviews with the Dalai Lama (who opines that the centre of the universe is every man) and hypnotic shots of the vast natural world and Buddhists prostrating themselves in worship. In these images, Herzog conveys a sense of how repetitive ritual and corporeal endurance are the Buddhists’ means of achieving harmony between their external and internal selves.—Nick Schager.

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