"The Monk and the Gun" is a message to the world from one of the world's youngest democracies

On February 23, a film from one of the most remote places in the world - Bhutan located in the Himalayas - will appear in the repertoires of Lithuanian cinemas for the first time. The comic drama "The Monk and the Gun" tells the story of the challenges and paradoxes of organizing the country's first general elections, with appropriate humor. This is director Pawo Choyning Dorji's second film. His first film "Lunana. Jack in the Classroom' brought the young Bhutanese film industry, only in its thirties, its first Oscar nomination, while 'The Monk and the Gun' was shortlisted.

When, due to the prevailing geopolitical situation, most people anxiously observe the upcoming elections in one of the world's oldest democracies - the United States of America - questions inevitably arise about the state of democracy and how to improve it. In a country that is considered the bearer of democracy in all corners of the world, the division of society has acquired a dangerously aggressive expression. Director Pawo Choyning Dorji thought at a very opportune time to turn to 2006 in his native Bhutan, when there was a uniquely peaceful transition from a monarchy to a democratic system. It is like a message to the world - a reminder of the original vision of democracy, the pursuit of peace and harmony, and possible challenges.

In the laws of Bhutan since the 18th century. recorded statement: "if the government cannot bring happiness to the people, the government has no reason to exist." A country that lived in voluntary isolation for a long time in the 21st century. at the beginning, he started to introduce modernity - he introduced television and connected to the Internet. Seeing how the world was changing and wanting to help Bhutan find its place in it, the king abdicated and called for the first general election.

The action of the movie "The Monk and the Gun" takes place in one of the villages, where the election organizers come to agitate people to vote and organize educational elections. At that time, the only lama of the village, having heard about the changes on the radio, says that "everything needs to be fixed" and orders his assistant monk to find two weapons. A rumor spreads in the village that Lama is preparing for a special ceremony.

The search for weapons in Bhutan, where they are almost non-existent, is surprising to the locals, as many have never even seen them in person. But it is not for nothing that the character of the American Ron Coleman appears here. The USA is famous in the world not only for its long traditions of democracy, but also for the fact that it has more guns than its population. The director inserts a reference to the American Civil War in the collector's desire to get the antique weapon at any cost. Democracies are usually born out of revolutions and violence, but Bhutan's history is unique in its peacefulness.

At the time, Ron Coleman's own name is a reference to the Western idealization of Himalayan isolation and the Buddhist worldview. Ronald Colman was the actor who starred in American director Frank Capra's adventure film Lost Horizon (1937), in which the characters find themselves in Shangri-la, a mythical Himalayan utopia, after a plane crash. Inspired by the film and James Hilton's book on which it is based, Westerners even organized expeditions in search of this paradise in the mountains. Due to its isolation, remoteness and general idea of ​​national happiness, Bhutan is considered the "last Shangri-La".

After the modernization of the country, a film industry was created and the Bhutanese themselves began to tell their story to the world through films. Director Pawo Choyning Dorji does this through Hollywood storytelling and cinematic language. The practical challenges posed by the still young film industry and the remote location limit creative solutions, but at the same time give Bhutanese cinema its distinctiveness. The director had to make his first film with a very small crew, using simple and light equipment and natural light, because he could only reach the filming location, where there is no electricity, by climbing difficult mountain paths for two weeks. The circumstances of creating "The Monk and the Gun" were already easier, but another challenge, according to the director, was the fact that there are no professional film actors in Bhutan yet. The actors chosen for the main roles are influenced by expressive Bollywood acting, while many others were played by local residents. The lama who needed the weapons was played by the real lama of the village of Ura, where the film was shot.

More about the movie here.
Movie screenings in Romuva here.

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