Wednesday, June 24, 2009
No matter if you believe Buddhist's reincarnation or not, Israel filmmaker Nati Baratz's documentary "Unmistaken Child" (Israel 2008 | in Tibetan/Nepali | 102 min.) will take you to an extraordinary journey that is hard to forget. The "unmistaken" child's curious eyes will not leave you alone—either joyfully worshipping the little boy, or wondering what has been done to the child and his family in the name of reincarnation.
A Tibetan Lama passed away at the age of 84 in 2001. His disciple Tenzin Zopa goes on a quest that lasts over four years to search for the "unmistaken" child to be his master's reincarnation. The film documents the search process and reveals the human aspects behind the religion believes and faith. It allows the audience to come to their own conclusions if the little boy is indeed the unmistaken reborn of the deceased monk.
There is no doubt shown by the film that Tenzin Zopa is a devoted monk. He has been at his master's service since the age of seven. For over 20 years, he doesn't think but simply always follows his master—he told us in very good English, wearing a Northface jacket. After his master's death, he needs to fill the void by completing his reincarnation. Based on the Tibetan tradition, the master's reincarnation should be a new born between the age of one to two. Would you want to be chosen as the unmistaken child?
Whether the child is the unmistaken child depends on who you ask. To non-believers of reincarnation, it's an incredible sad to witness that a child is lured away by toys and balloons from his parents. To believers of reincarnation, it's a delightful celebration of the reborn of their master and a remarkable achievement of finding the boy.
However, one thing is surely unmistaken is that the boy's fate is sealed and his life is forever changed, and he doesn't even know yet. He is no longer living in poverty condition and he drinks American brand orange juice even in a remote mountain area. He wears clean clothes, although not a Northface jacket, yet. He is preoccupied by many toys that he has never seen before and sleeps soundly in a sea of teddy bears.
I hope he will feel a little comfort in the future when he sees his parents speaking to the camera in this film, with profound sadness in their eyes: "If it's not for this (reincarnation), who is going to give up his child?"