RLB76 Buddhism and Film

Faculty of Arts
Spring 2021
Extent and Intensity
1/1. 5 credit(s). Type of Completion: k (colloquium).
doc. PhDr. Luboš Bělka, CSc. (lecturer)
Mgr. Martin Špirk (assistant)
Guaranteed by
doc. PhDr. David Zbíral, Ph.D.
Department for the Study of Religions - Faculty of Arts
Contact Person: Mgr. Kateřina Sedlářová
Supplier department: Department for the Study of Religions - Faculty of Arts
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is only offered to the students of the study fields the course is directly associated with.

The capacity limit for the course is 30 student(s).
Current registration and enrolment status: enrolled: 0/30, only registered: 0/30
fields of study / plans the course is directly associated with
Course objectives
The course deals with Euro-American fascination by "Tibet", "Buddhism" and generally speaking "Orient". Earlier in history, Tibet was seen in a rather negative context, mediated first of all by reports of Christian missionaries or by biased ideological interpretations. For today's "Western" view idealisation is typical, and it is represented in films, music and literature. In theory we can speak of the phenomenon of "Orientalism" in the reflection of Tibetan Buddhism, which is projected into films and novels. The course mainly deals with the analysis of these novels and films. After theoretical and methodological introduction selected films and novels are critically analysed (Lost Horizon, Kundun, Seven Years in Tibet, The Cup, Himalaya-Caravane, Little Buddha, Anna and the King etc.) At the end of this course, students should be able to interpret the "western image" of Tibetan Buddhism. Beside the so called "Hollywood" Buddhism the course focuses on the image of Buddhism in various documentary films as well as in film propaganda and anti-propaganda in connection with Buddhism.
Learning outcomes
At the end of the course students should be able to:
  • define the basic forms of the Western view of Buddhism as reflected in film;
  • describe basic works of the so called „Hollywood“ Buddhism;
  • describe basic examples of individual forms of the so called „Hollywood“ Buddhism;
  • In the case of documentary films to recognize whether the film belongs to propaganda or standard documentary film.
  • Syllabus
    • Introduction
    • Presentation of the movie "Lost Horizon"
    • Lecture and discussion about the movie "Lost Horizon"
    • Presentation of the documentary movie "Searching for Shangrila"
    • Lecture and discussion about the movie "Searching for Shangrila"
    • Presentation of selected parts of the movie "Kundun"
    • Lecture and discussion about the movie "Kundun"
    • Presentation of selected parts of the movie "Seven Years in Tibet"
    • Presentation of selected parts of the movie "Little Buddha"
    • Lecture and discussion about the movies "Seven Years in Tibet" and "Little Buddha"
    • Presentation of the documentary moviee about Tibet and Buddhism in the Czech Republic and Slovakia; discussion
    • Presentation of selected parts of the movie "Phurpa - Pot" and discussion
    • Final discussion; test; evaluation of students works
      required literature
    • SCHELL, Orville. Virtual Tibet :searching for Shangri-la from the Himalayas to Hollywood. 1st ed. New York: Metropolitan books, 2000. 340 s. ISBN 0-8050-4381-0. info
    • Fascinácia a (ne)poznanie: kultúrne strety Západu a Východu. Edited by Martin Slobodník - Gabriel Pirický. Vyd. 1. Bratislava: Chronos, 2003. 200 s. ISBN 8089027083. info
      recommended literature
    • Imagining Tibet : perceptions, projections, & fantasies. Edited by Thierry Dodin - Heinz Räther. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2001. xiii, 465. ISBN 0861711912. info
    • LOPEZ, Donald S. Prisoners of Shangri-La : Tibetan Buddhism and the West. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. x, 283. ISBN 0226493105. info
    • LENOIR, Frédéric. Setkávání buddhismu se západem. Vyd. 1. Praha: Volvox Globator, 2002. 334 s. ISBN 8072074962. info
    Teaching methods
    lectures, class discussions, reading of texts
    Assessment methods
    Written test based on the required reading, lectures, and presentations (100 points, the minimum of 60 points is required to pass the test). Test represents 100 % of overal evaluation in the course.
    Language of instruction
    Further comments (probably available only in Czech)
    The course is taught: every other week.
    Information on course enrolment limitations: Zápis mimo religionistiku je podmíněn souhlasem vyučujícího.
    Listed among pre-requisites of other courses
    The course is also listed under the following terms Spring 2003, Spring 2004, Autumn 2006, Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020.
    • Enrolment Statistics (Spring 2021, recent)
    • Permalink: https://is.muni.cz/course/phil/spring2021/RLB76