Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Shashi Kapoor, Simi Garewal, Romesh Sharma, Pinchoo Kapoor, Zul Vellani
Director: Conrad Rooks
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
A glorious adaptation of the classic Herman Hesse novel, "Siddhartha" was filmed by Conrad Rooks with legendary cinematographer Sven Nykvist in Northern India. Bewitched by the shimmering beauty and magic of this ancient l... more »
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This Siddhartha is Not Enlightening
Angelo McCabe | Pasadena, CA USA | 07/22/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Since your initial desire to see this film is because you fell in love, as I did, and countless millions, with Hesse's novel, there is no need to go over the plot. Having waited for so long for this film to make it to DVD, I was immensely disappointed, even a little peeved, when I finally got to sit down and watch it. Here's why: Although the film was beautifully shot, great cinematography does not a good film make. All of the scenes are flat and utterly fail to capture even the slightest essence of what Hesse sublimely achieved in the book. As the writer of the screenplay, Conrad Rooks missed the boat entirely. For example, when Siddhartha confronts his father about striking out on his own, the scene is this quick ping-pong typ of edit between the father and son; it's over in a flash and you get no idea about the struggle or the love that either one feels. No dramatic tension, no cost, and hence no pay-off whatsoever. One of the most beautiful moments in the book is when Siddhartha meets Kamala at her palace. Again, 99.9% of the essence of the scene Hesse created is just omitted or forgotten by Rooks and the actors in his film. And the dialog that is in the script seems like it was just lifted haphazardly from the novel, without any true understanding from either the director or the actors about what it means or what's truly going on. Flat, flat, flat!Unfortunately, the film gets no help from the actors. Sashi Kapoor as Siddhartha seems lost (as the actor) and utter lifeless. And there was absolutely no chemistry between him and the actress playing Kamala. The only scene that even gets close is when Siddhartha meets the Buddha in the forest -- and the wonder of that scene is achieved from the voiceover Buddha, who you do not even see on the screen. The music in the film is very good however, but again, that is just not enough. Sadly, the weakest links in the film are the director, his screenplay, uninspiring actors and an inability to direct those actors. In the end, Conrad Rooks' Siddhartha is a major disappointment. A remake that does Hesse's book justice is long overdue, and I do not recommend it. I feel that Bertolucci's "Little Buddha" with Keanu Reeves as the historic Siddhartha (Gotama) fully achieved and captured the beauty, mystery and transcendence that is on the spiritual journey."
Finally on DVD. A beautiful rendition of Hesse's Siddhartha
pinkpanther263 | 11/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"1. The plot. The Nobel prize winner, Hermann Hesse, wrote Siddhartha in 1922. It is a novel about Eastern spirituality (many Indian scholars consider it as one of the few succesful examples of Indian philosophy presented by a Western author). Siddhartha is one of the names given to the Buddha himself. The novel narrates the pilgrimage of the son of a Brahmin, his struggle to find his own destiny; his friendship with Govinda (his "shadow"); his encounters with many different people: the Samanas (the ascetics that practice self-denial); Kamala (a courtesan who claims that she can teach and provide love as an art); Kamasawami (a rich merchant who becomes his boss); and Vasudeva... - note Vasudeva is another name given to Krishna, the teacher/driver of Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita). 2. The Movie. In 1972, Conrad Rooks (an almost unknown movie director who made "Chappaqua" in 1966) came out with a 94-minute movie transcription of Hesse's novel. He engaged Sven Nykvist (the famous Swedish cinematographer of Igmar Bergman) and a mainly Indian cast, including Shashi Kapoor (Siddhartha), Simi Garewal (Kamala), Romesh Sharma (Govinda) and Zul Vellani (Vasudeva). The beautiful music was composed by Hemanta Mukherjee (I hope the soundtrack will be available soon). It will be particularly enjoyable by those who had read the book. In many of the scenes the synergism produced by the photography, the music and the acting is superb. And with few excceptions, the movie is a good transcription of the book. The book and the movie became part of the "cult culture" of the West coast of the early seventies, but it never got the attention of the general public. With a condescending tone, Leonard Maltin refers to the movie as "too arty, but on-location photography ... is often dazzling"."
Read the book first!
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you have read the book by Herman Hesse and loved it, you will most probably love this film too. It is a good attempt to transfer Hesse's philosophical treatise to screen - and any attempt at transmitting such writing is bound to fall short in some ways to some people. Some of my 'favourite bits' were cut, but overall I love the film and will be watching it again.
if you have not read the book, then I recommend you read it before watching the film; otherwise it may seem disjointed.
Also, you will then realise that Siddhartha is NOT the buddha - that he was a seeker after truth, -until he gave up seeking- and would accept no other persons version of truth - not even the Buddha's (who he meets in the film). (The experience of realisation is incommunicable).
Those who 'follow' or 'belong', -Buddhists or prospective Buddhists - would do well to "follow" Siddhartha's example as even the Buddha in the Pali canon states: 'accept no teacher, follow no one, rely on your self'. Hesse's Siddhartha essentially is expounding the philosophy of Advaita, or nonduality.
I suspect this explains some of the 'misconceived' reviews below.
Picture quality: although the film was made in 1972 it has been expertly restored and whoever has done the transfer to dvd did a good job because the picture quality is better than many transfers of more recent films.
A Visual Meditation
pinkpanther263 | United States | 03/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow...how can I even find words to talk about this film? From start to finish, I felt like I was in swept up in a meditative state--the captivating music of Tagore's poetry, the beautiful cinematography, and the quiet simplicity of the film. I suddenly found myself on Siddhartha's same journey, the quest of who am I and what am I doing here? And in the end, I felt totally complete--with all the answers and none at the same time. Some have said "there is not enough" in this film. Not only do I disagree, but I think that's the whole point! In an age where we are bombarded by special effects and other distractions, what a delight to see something that is not "trying" to be something! It just "is"--and leaves it up to you to see the beauty, which is abundant for all the senses. Again, it is an adaptation so of course not everything can be included, but I felt Rooks "kept it simple" in Buddhist style and I didn't miss a thing. Everything I needed to see and hear was there. Also thought the casting was perfect--Shashi Kapoor dead on as Siddhartha and I thought had great chemistry with Simi Garewal who plays Kamala.A special note about the bonus features: Don't miss the interview with Conrad Rooks! That was almost as enjoyable as seeing the film itself--his synchronistic and humble tale of how the film overcame substantial obstacles to finally be made. I don't think I've ever heard as much behind the scenes info on a film! You're on the edge of your seat to hear what happened next....Truly amazing, a delight for the senses. I can't even think of anything I DIDN'T like from this film--it did that much for me. I felt totally at peace. If you are spiritual at all and open to someone else's interpretation of the book, you will not be disappointed!Enjoy!"