Soul on a String (2016) Poster

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8/10
Irresistibly Resplendent
Raven-196919 October 2016
In moonlight reflected on a remote mountain lake, the lime and lemon tinted steppes and snowy mountain twilight of Tibet, there is a thin line between what is magic and what is real. A mountain man, Tabei, is revived from the dead and sent on a quest to return a sacred Dzi bead and revive his troubled soul in the process. The road he must travel, in his heart as well as the mountains, is plagued by demons. To make matters worse, Tabei is pursued by treasure hunters with eyes on the Dzi bead and brothers bent on revenge for their father's death at the hands of Tabei's father. Fortunately for Tabei, there are protective figures along these roads as well as demented ones. Tabei's epic route of self-discovery and heart cleansing, connects him with the beautiful landscape, people, stories and invisible worlds of Tibet.

The film crew captured the fantastic Tibetan landscape footage from camping in the wilderness. The remote scenery is very impressive and beautiful. The attractive actors in colorful traditional garb are wondrously illuminated in soft and natural light. Some of the scenes, a campfire on a moonlit mountain lake in particular, were irresistibly resplendent and made me long to visit the settings. Despite some awkward transitions and acting, and a little personal confusion about Tibetan culture, Soul on a String is lyrical and gorgeous to witness. Seen at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.
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10/10
Surprisingly Awesome
kowboykaziklibey20 June 2019
The soul of a killer named Tabei dies then is summoned back from the Bardo (an intermediate place between life and rebirth in Tibetan Buddhism) by monks and given a mission to deliver a sacred object to an unknown destination. During the journey to deliver the object, Tabei is being tracked as the target for a revenge killing in a generational familial feud that preceded his birth. Along way, many interesting characters are introduced into the story, including a young woman named Chung, a orphaned mute boy whom is given the name "Pu," an assortment of Tibetan cowboys some of whom are villians intent upon taking custody the sacred object for their boss "by any means" and another whose intentions remain mysterious.
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10/10
Visual Feast
gaijin-1142219 April 2018
Nothing more I can say about this movie, or so I thought till I watched the ending credits and heard that incredible piece of music in the credits. Can anyone tell me the name of the tune and who plays it. Very full bass and electronic sound and amazing vocals.
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6/10
How to steal a soul
metroart15 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is about Tibet, with Tibetan actors speaking Tibetan, but is meant neither for Tibetans or Western audiences. It's loosely based on a 1985 short story by the "Tibetan" novelist Tashi Dawa, who was born to a Chinese mother and educated in China, writes only in Chinese, speaks no Tibetan, and is a prominent and respected figure in the Chinese cultural establishment. Yet the Chinese never refer to him as a citizen of China, but invariably call him a Tibetan, because of his father's birthplace.

Tashi Dawa is China's foremost practitioner of "magic realism" -- which blurs the line between reality and fantasy -- and that's what you get in this movie, an uneasy blending of truth and fiction, meant to appropriate the culture of Tibet and re-present it as a barbaric myth that is now part of China's heritage, the way the American Wild West is part of our own.

Imagine a story right out of a John Ford western, an outlaw on a daunting mission to deliver a precious stone, but with a metaphysical twist -- he's pursued not only by thieves and a pair of brothers hell bent on karmic revenge, but by John Ford himself -- or in this case, an actor standing in for Mr. Dawa, who is seeking the end of his own story, tracking his fictional characters across a gorgeously surreal landscape, finally taking over where they leave off, counting the days of his hero's journey like beads on a Tibetan rosary, arriving magically on day 108, the number of volumes that comprise the Tibetan canon of the Buddha's words.

China has taken over Tibet in much the same way we stole the West from Native Americans. First by brute force and military conquest, then by industrial and technological exploitation, finally by laying claim to its cultural mythology, capturing its "soul" on their string. Don't ask the Native Tibetans on the rez what they think of this movie. They won't tell you. But you can guess.
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8/10
"Don't ever get close to men with swords."
classicsoncall4 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I will grant, as the lone prior reviewer (as I write this) has mentioned, that the cinematography for this film is spectacular, having earned a Golden Goblet Award at the 2016 Shanghai International Film Festival. As far as the story goes, one must remain attentive because it's non-linear exposition doesn't always feel like it, and one can get confused with characters past and present. One also can't help feeling that there is no resolution to the principal character Tabei's mission to return the Dzi Bead/Sacred Stone to the Palm Print Sacred Land. There is an innovative element regarding Tabei's search for the Sacred Land, in that a hint from the Incarnate Lama Zatroe regarding 'the road on your body' is to be taken quite literally. It takes a while for Tabei to reach that understanding, and I won't give that away here. For potential viewers, the pace of the film appears intentionally slow, though not a problem for this viewer. Given the Oriental setting, one might expect a degree of martial arts action and there is none of that, although some violence does have it's place. As far as a recommendation, it's hard for me to say. I remained attentive to the story but it didn't overwhelm me as an important picture one must see. I would temper expectations for the film and in it's own way may surprise the patient observer.
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