Rasputin: The Mad Monk

Rasputin: The Mad Monk
Back in the World: Monks Amid Society
Monday, March 2, 2009
6:30pm @ Central Library

A monk's charge is to separate himself from society to pursue religious study and foster spiritual introspection. Back in the World examines how modernism challenges the monastic lifestyle as well as how its principles still influence society on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. throughout March 2009 in the Stanley H. Durwood Film Vault at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

This series complements two other Library events this month: From Monks to Punks: Chant from the Middle Ages to the Present and Contemplative Art: Sand Mandala Construction.

The film line-up includes:

Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966) on March 2. Christopher Lee (The Lord of the Rings) made his name early on in a series of Hammer Film horrors. In this genre example, Lee brings the same over-the-top evil to the role of Rasputin that he perfected in earlier Dracula films. Director Don Sharp doesn't let facts distract from his vision of the notorious Russian peasant-mystic whose uncanny healing powers earned him the trust of Czar Nicholas II. Not rated. (91 min.)

Lost Horizon (1937) on March 9. A British diplomat (Ronald Colman) crash lands in the Himalayas, where he is rescued by a mountain caravan that brings him to Shangri-La—a utopian valley inspired by a mythical kingdom called Shambhala, described in some Buddhist texts. This Frank Capra classic is based on the novel by James Hilton and includes Jane Wyatt in her first screen role. Not rated. (138 min.)

The Cup (1999) on March 16. This good-natured comedy focuses on a Buddhist monastery in northern India that gets caught up in World Cup fever with the arrival of two young novices who spread the soccer bug. The perspective of writer/director Khyentse Norbu— a Buddhist monk himself—lends authenticity to the tale. In Hindi and Tibetan with English subtitles. Rated G. (93 min.)

Jacob's Ladder (1990) on March 23. Tim Robbins stars as a Vietnam War veteran who flashes erratically between his past and present in this psychological thriller that is based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The cast includes Danny Aiello, Ving Rhames and Jason Alexander. Rated R. (115 min.)

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003) on March 30. This South Korean film follows an elderly Buddhist monk as he instructs a young disciple in the monastic life. A visually stunning film that is as contemplative as the philosophy that serves as its grounding. In Korean with English subtitles. Rated R. (103 min.)