I have been posting a Friday Night Documentary on this blog ever since starting it in July 2010, and I have by now posted around 70 or 80 videos. One of the things that struck me from the beginning is how difficult it is to find anything connected to Theravada history and culture.
If you do a search on youtube for Sri Lanka, it is likely to turn up many videos about the horrors of the war there (and cricket!); the same for Myanma, with the added spice of the uprisings and repression; Thailand yields only floods, prostitution and drugs (and volleyball); and Cambodia the Killing Fields.
Maybe because of all the murder and mayhem going on in these countries in recent times there has been no time for reflections of their almost unsurpassed heritage, both in terms of culture and religion, but it is the case.
Having lived in Lanka for 15 years and being fairly familiar with the culture I have looked many times for something to share with others, but without much luck.
Then in one day I came across two films which show something about the great history and achievements of the country, and so I will show one tonight and the other next week.
The first has been produced by Tissa Abeysekera, who also is the narrator, and is about the Cultural Triangle in Sri Lanka, a series of historical sites under the care of UNESCO.
It is a short film, around 40 minutes, and has a lot of area to cover, starting with the ancient capital of Anuradhapura, and moving on to Ritigala, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and finally the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, the last independent kingdom in the country, about which there will be more next week.
A lot of the film seems to be based on British archeological sources, and the ever restless camera work – 2-3 second fade, and constant panning to and fro – made me feel a bit sea-sick after a while.
But the commentary is well-written and fairly informative, and the music provides a good backdrop for the occasional intervals when the narrator is quiet. All in all the film will give some idea of the long and varied history of the country, and provides an introduction to its culture also.
The quality of this video is quite low (240px), but I hope it is reasonable enough – and interesting enough – to be able to bear with it.
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Temple of the Tooth
Kandy Period Statue