Milarepa’s story is one of the best known in Tibetan history and this is a fine retelling of his early years, before he converted to Buddhism. There was supposed to be a follow up planned for 2009, covering the later years, but as far as I can see it didn’t materialise yet.
Meanwhile we at least find out the background to his life story here: born into a rich man’s family, when his Father dies his uncle basically steals all the property and leaves the widow and her children, including Thopaga, the future Milarepa, in back-breaking poverty.
Seeking revenge his Mother sends Thopaga to learn the black arts so as to punish her brother and all who sided with him. Thopaga proves to be an excellent disciple and is sent to an even greater master, who fully equips him for his task.
On return to his village he causes an earthquake and a landslide which kill many of his enemies, including his uncle, but also many innocents, who loose everything owing to his wrath.
It is seeing this that makes him turn to the Dharma, and the last scene sees him walking off to find his master. The film is dramatic, well acted and really engaging, but of course it cuts off too early, as we long to see how the Dharma transformed a killer into a saint. Let’s hope they can produce the second part soon.