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Carlos Castaneda - Enigma of a Sorcerer
Carlos Castaneda - Enigma of a Sorcerer
Actors: Amy Wallace, Melissa Ward (II), Carlos Castaneda, Robert J. Feldman, Peter Coyote
Director: Ralph Torjan
Genres: Special Interests, Documentary, Mystery & Suspense
R     2006     1hr 30min

A best-selling Author for 30 years, Carlos Castaneda inspired millions to break free from social dogma, fueling controversy over his work's authenticity and assertions of perceiving non-ordinary reality, during an apprenti...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Amy Wallace, Melissa Ward (II), Carlos Castaneda, Robert J. Feldman, Peter Coyote
Director: Ralph Torjan
Genres: Special Interests, Documentary, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Religion, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Indican
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 06/01/2006
Original Release Date: 02/27/2004
Theatrical Release Date: 02/27/2004
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Total waste; hurtful to Castaneda's reputation and legacy
Randy Macdonald | Mississauga, ON, CANADA | 05/19/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)

"This documentary is a travesty, especially considering this is the only one available on Castaneda, because by being the only one it may be the *definitive* one. Someone needs to make another Castaneda documentary just to set things right in some measure and do the man and his work justice.

First, when you put the DVD in, it forces you to watch a really old, bad looking documentary on corn (the sneak previews look even worse). In the first few minutes of the doc you get assailed by shifting, swirling, distorting images of the interviewees. It must be stressed how utterly cheap and amateurish the visual production of this movie is. It seems the guy did dig deep into his Windows 95 bag of screensaver/desktop theme tricks along with his early 80s commodore 64 sprite programs to come up with such a crappy look to the film. The film would have looked better with none of these visuals at all and probably would have cost the same to do so. It's not that I focus on the quality of visuals in movies, but you just can't help but notice how cheap this DVD's visuals are and how often they distract you from the interviews.

My main critique of this documentary is it deals almost exclusively with the man's life outside his writings and not with the all-important writings themselves. To achieve the documentary's aim would apparently be an enourmous feat to begin with since he led an ultra secretive life for many if not most of his years since his initial meeting with Don Juan. You'd have to have direct access to his inner circle of followers, women, friends etc, none of which this documentary has except with Amy Wallace. But she is only given equal time with everyone else, and what she has to say is (unfortunately) on par with everyone else. That is, an almost worthless musing about Castaneda. The most interesting thing I've heard Wallace say (not in this documentary) is the Don Juan character is actually a composite figure of several sorts of similar men Castaneda met throughout his life. While this is a fascinating theory, she never offers a shred of evidence for it here. Surely an anecdote of a Casteneda ecounter with another shaman would have been not only sound evidence but a great story in itself?

I was in a doctor's office recently with a copy of Taisha Abelar's "The Sorcerer's Crossing". A nurse struck up a conversation with me about it and I mentioned Castaneda. She said, "I heard that his writings actually weren't true". I think what gives rise to such vacant rumours are chatty documentaries like this. There are a couple of wormy, smug academics in the video who give explanations about why the Casteneda books aren't true. For instance, one critic says Don Juan is moody and aloof in the first book, yet gets happier and more open into the second and third books. To him, this clearly demonstrates a totally inconsistent personality and therefore indicates a fictitious character. You just want to reach into the TV and slap this petty little monkey. His arguments are so hollow, it's amazing they are even admitted into this documentary, especially without counterpoint.

When I first sat down to read Castaneda's first book "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way Of Knowledge", I was so riveted that I read on continuously for 6 hours to about page 162 before sleep compelled me to stop. That's about the best way I could describe how fascinating and awe inspiring the Castaneda books are. Within a year I had read his first 7 books. I've always felt that for me to try and describe Castaneda's books to someone asking would be an injustice because the books cover so much ground about the fascinating and nearly unbelievable latent powers all humans have that to try that to try encapsulate this would be futile.

At the end of the day, you realize that it's the Don Juan character and his teachings that's truly important about Castaneda's work - not Castaneda's sorcery abilities or that of any of his followers because they all seem to be light years behind Don Juan. So focus on the Castaneda books and forget this piece of [...] `documentary'."
An unremitting piece of crap, regardless of your views
jammer | Laramie, Wyoming United States | 01/11/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)

"This reviewer, who followed very closely the intellectually stimulating early works of Castenada back in the 70s (forget his later books where he finally goes over the edge) felt like puking after viewing this overpriced and worthless Sirius Bandits/Indican Pictures monstrosity. It doesn't matter what side you come down on relative to Castenada and his works. From ANY perspective, this cheap "documentary" is a total piece of crap; from the first unskippable, unavoidable 3-minute plus blurb on growing corn (or whatever, and having nothing to do with the main feature); to the 90-minutes of talking heads; with unremitting, nauseous, psychedelic imagery as the background; even to spilling into the foreground so that some of the talking heads become distorted and wavering as though even they are about ready to puke!

Avoid this rip-off whatever your views of Castenada, or you'll be sorry you didn't! And think twice before you ever buy anything from Indican Pictures or Sirius Bandits!
A headache inducing embarassment
Brian Whistler | Forestville, CA United States | 06/29/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)

"This film seems to come from the mind of one man, who's name I (thankfully for him) forget. This "auteur" was evidently responsible for the relentless barrage of corny home video effects and endless electronica that passes itself off as a soundtrack in this embarassingly amateurish attempt at a documentary on the life and teachings of Carlos Castaneda.

It's too bad, because Castaneda is a superb subject for a documentary treatment. This just isn't it. Comprised of interviews with a number of ex-students, Castaneda, who refused to be photographed (there are only a few known photos of the man,) never appears on screen. We only hear his voice for a moment at the beginning and end of the film.

It's almost tragic that this piece is for all intents and purposes unwatchable , as one can sense there was some good material to work with here. Some of the people who knew Castaneda offer up fascinating insights into the life of this complex self made guru. A couple of ex-disciples are able to appreciate the value of the teachings of Don Juan, while at the same time acknowledging the whole affair was an elaborate hoax. This is the paradox of Castaneda, writer extraordinaire, trickster and charismatic myth maker.

But even the most candid reminisces and the most profound observations are wasted as we are relentlessly assaulted with a constant onslaught of mindless cliches in the form of puerile wipes and fades, not to mention painfully literal composite shots, all saturated with one corny 70's "psychedelic" video effect after another. It's an exhausting experience if you can make it all the way through this turkey. Just getting through the protracted credits is a chore. If there is such a thing as "eye candy", this must be the equivalant of eye diarrhea.

Be afraid. Be very afraid."
Glenn | Harrisburg, PA | 02/19/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)

"This movie is total crap. I have been to Tensegrity Workshops and listened to Carlos in person. I was hoping for more incite on what went on behind the scenes. No, I was not part of the "elite" group. What you get is someone's poor attempt to "cash" in on the Don Juan $$$$ wave. Watch the free clips at [...] and you will basically get the whole movie for free. Very disappointing and if you see a rating higher than 1 star (generous) it is because they somehow are profiting by you buying the video (I'll sell you my copy)."