As just a film, it’s a fine effort, certainly in the archives, handsomely mounted with some nice photography and soft elliptical editing that matches material. However, as a Scorsese film—it’s a disappointment. It seems aggressively mediocre in comparison with the majority of his body of work. To add to that- when you also throw in that this is the only pairing between Scorsese and the great DP Roger Deakins, it features a genius score from Philip Glass, production designer Dante Ferretti and editor Thelma Schoonmaker—it can’t be seen as anything but an artistic disappointment
I mentioned it above- but pleasing, quiet elliptical editing
Strong use of color- yellows and reds
Wall-art photography in a few shots—sumptuous shots – one with bodies in a long shot in front of a lake
Another in a quick surrealism sequences with a sea of red robes (and men in them) shot- a stunner
I’m not sure why Scorsese’s direction is uncharacteristically lacking in cinematic energy. Is it the reverence for the subject matter? If that’s the case it’s just a poor choice in project. Regardless, it’s his worst film since Boxcar Bertha (his only unarchiveable film) in 1972 and again, the only one that I can’t really tell Scorsese directed. The direction is competent (could’ve been directed by Ron Howard or Richard Attenborough
The sand quilt formal tool thing doesn’t work
With this in 1997 and Bringing out the Dead in 1999 it does feel like the changing of the guard a little bit with PT Anderson making masterpieces (Boogie Nights and Magnolia in the same years) even if Scorsese would bounce back in the 21st century with a bunch of brilliant films
Is Kundun the worst directed film in the entire filmography of Martin Scorsese?
@Janith – Boxcar Bertha by a sizable margin
Excluding Boxcar Bertha is Kundun the worst directed film in the filmography of Martin Scorsese?
What do you think?
@Janith- Yeah- I’d go with Kundun after Boxcar. Still a very good film.
What are the elements that make Boxcar Bertha so terrible?
@Zane- I’ll let Cassavetes comment here “After he finished this film, Martin Scorsese screened it for John Cassavetes. Cassavetes, after seeing it, hugged Scorsese and said, “Marty, you’ve just spent a whole year of your life making a piece of shit. It’s a good picture, but you’re better than the people who make this kind of movie. Don’t get hooked into the exploitation market, just try and do something different.” Scorsese’s next film was Mean Streets (1973).”
@Drake – Haha, yes I read that myself as the highest-rated review on Letterboxd.