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When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun

  • Documentary and factual
  • 2010
  • Dirk Simon
  • 113 mins
  • 15


Unfortunately, the 14th Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people receive little political support in their drive to put an end to the Chinese brutal regime, as international governments are seemingly motivated by economic interests in China. The lack of progress toward a free, or even a truly autonomous Tibet, urges more and more young Tibetans to consider alternatives to the Dalai Lama's Middle Way Policy, a compromise on Tibet's Independence. The controversial discussion about the right strategy for achieving a free Tibet - non-violent or violent, autonomy or complete independence - is becoming more emotionally charged day by day. Monks have been leading Tibet and Tibetans for generations, not only in religious, but also in worldly matters. But monks have vows that bind them. And often those vows conflict with the needs of politics. The Tibetan movement today is divided and weakened by an ongoing argument whether the Dalai Lama"s Middle Way Policy is the right strategy or not. Tibetans are torn between their religious beliefs and their desire to free their homeland. In November 2008, the Dalai Lama acknowledged for the first time the failure of his policy and that the situation for Tibetans in Tibet has worsened. His unprecedented call for a special meeting upon 500 Tibetan leaders from all over the world led to a discussion about the future of the movement and a way to re-unite all Tibetans behind one goal.

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A star rating of 3 out of 5.

Most documentaries about Tibet are staunchly anti-Chinese. But director Dirk Simon allows Beijing to put its case in this well-balanced summary of the arguments for and against Tibetan autonomy. Following a brief resumé of events since the 1950 Red Army invasion, Simon concentrates on the future and pays due deference to the Dalai Lama's call for a "Middle Way" that would see Tibet achieve self-rule within the People's Republic. However, while the Samdhong Rinpoche (Prime Minister of the government, in exile) and the teenage heir to the Dharma throne, Lhagyari Trichen Namgyal Wangchuk, support his position, activists Lhasang Tsering and Tenzin Dorjee demand total independence. Others are keen to abandon peaceful diplomacy and take up arms. Celebrity champions like Richard Gere and retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu have their say as well, while Damien Rice and Thom Yorke contribute songs to complement Philip Glass's score. Overall, however, this is a serious-minded bid to understand an intractable problem.

How to watch





DirectorDirk Simon


Theatrical distributor
Arrow Films
Released on
English | Italian | Tibetan
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