Buddha, Genius of the Ancient World

Buddha, Genius of the Ancient World

This is a film about the Buddha in a new series entitled Genius of the Ancient World by historian Bettany Hughes who previously made Seven Wonders of the Buddhist World.

The series will look at three ancient thinkers whose teachings are still very relevant in shaping our thinking in the modern world: Buddha, Socrates and Confucius.

The idea for the series is good, but the execution in the one about the Buddha is quite poor, lacking proper understanding of the teaching and the times.

It seems the only advisor for the episode was one western scholar, and it always amazes me that people make films about the Buddha without asking for proper advice from someone within the tradition.

Anyway, the film, like the BBC’s previous Life of the Buddha, comes across as very positive about the Buddha and his teachings, even though there is a caveat about nationalist monks at the end.

The film mainly consists of Ms. Hughes telling the story of the Buddha and his times, and some of the ideas that he was teaching, with the help of a few local monks and scholars like Ven Seewalee, Shantum Seth, Prof. Upinder Singh, and Vikram Lall.

There is no attempt to recreate the times and the backdrop to the whole film is fairly irrelevant scenes from modern India, with Ms. Hughes walking towards and away from camera while throwing out one-liners.


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