Tibet on the Edge of Change

A hopelessly romantic view of Tibetan peasant life is offered in this 1994 black and white documentary by William Bacon, but its saving grace it that its focus is – for once – not on the religious and cultural life of Tibet, which has got so much coverage elsewhere but on the ordinary day-to-day life of the people, who are trying to eke out a living on the plateau, and the challenges they face from imposed Chinese development, which, even in those days was destructive of the land and resources of the country.

Since then, of course, development has moved on apace, and now, with the influx of Han Chinese into the country there is simply no way that the country can ever be the same again, so like the earlier documentary I showed in January (The Lost World of Tibet), which focused on the period from 1930s – 1950s, we are again seeing in this documentary a way of life that has virtually passed away – but one so much closer to our own times that it gets almost uncomfortable.

The film ends with the Dalai Lama’s hopes expressed in his talk in Hawaii:

It is my dream that the entire Tibetan plateau should become a free refuge, where humanity and nature can live in peace and in harmonious balance. It would be a place where people from all over the world could come to seek the meaning of peace within themselves, away from the tensions and pressures of much of the rest of the world.

The chances of the Dalai Lama’s dream coming true seem to recede further and further into the misty past.

 

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Some of the People seen in the Film

Tibet on the Edge of Change

Tibet on the Edge of Change

Tibet on the Edge of Change

Tibet on the Edge of Change

Tibet on the Edge of Change

Tibet on the Edge of Change

Tibet on the Edge of Change

Tibet on the Edge of Change

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