This is a film from Chinese TV probably made around the mid-2000s about the eminent monk of the Tang Dynasty, Xuan Zang whose story has been retold countless times in films in this collection.
Every retelling seems to have a particular take on the story, and in this one the creators have chosen to focus on distinguishing between the hero of real life and the hero of The Journey to the West character which was based on the real life events.
To this end the film interviews ordinary people in their homes and on the streets and authorities in the history of religion to draw a picture of the actual events and difficulties that Xuan Zang faced in his life and those the fictional character had to face.
It is made abundantly clear that the real character had to overcome many more hardships than the character from the novel and did so with great perseverance and courage, which may have been his greatest assets in his life’s work.
They visit his birth village, and other famous places he studied and lived, but with very little from India except a few postcard pictures of Nalanda. The coverage in China however more than makes up for the shortfall, and we come away knowing more of this great master’s time and circumstances.
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