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Diasporic Narrative and Audiovisual Synesthesia in the Film Kundun

  • Journal of Popular Narrative
  • 2024, 30(1), pp.183-212
  • DOI : 10.18856/jpn.2024.30.1.006
  • Publisher : The Association of Popular Narrative
  • Research Area : Interdisciplinary Studies > Interdisciplinary Research
  • Received : January 5, 2024
  • Accepted : February 9, 2024
  • Published : February 28, 2024

Sa-Bin Shin 1

1중부대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article examines the narrative significance of diaspora and synesthetic direction in the film Kundun. Martin Scorsese uses Kundun as a means of exploring aesthetics, delving into Tibetan rituals, customs, behavior, and authenticity. Through Kundun's perspective, he observes the reality, objects, and tragedies of Tibet. The study aims to interpret the Tibetan diaspora from a poetic-aesthetic perspective, attributing meaning to a film aesthetic that unites and enriches diasporic consciousness through audiovisual synesthesia. Melissa Mathison's film narrative portrays the journey of Kundun, who is chosen for reincarnation, as he confronts China's ambition and domination and ultimately goes into exile, opting for non-violence amidst a call for armed resistance. Kundun's story expands the realm of global Buddhism by awakening Tibetan Buddhism through diasporic consciousness. The film strategically employs symbolism, such as the snowy Himalayas and sand mandala, at the beginning and end, weaving them into the narrative of the diaspora. This serves as an expression of the ideological perspective and metaphorical concept of dependent origination and reincarnation through poetic aesthetics. As dependent origination and reincarnation follow the cosmic order and laws of nature, the sand mandala repeats the cycle of creation and extinction. Despite China's invasion and the resulting threat to Tibetan Buddhism, the Tibetan diaspora persists in preserving its religion and culture through rituals and artistic pursuits. The film masterfully integrates Tibetan music, synthetic art, and Buddhist consciousness, fostering a renewed appreciation for Tibetan language and culture. Philip Glass sought to blend harmony, melody, and rhythm into a singular expression through the film score, aligning it with Tibetan music, arts, and consciousness. By incorporating the repetitive nature of minimalist music, he not only conveys the film's narrative, but also subtly emphasizes key elements and builds anticipation throughout the film. The diasporic narrative of Kundun aims to transcend nationalism and embrace globalization by aligning diasporic visuals and music with Tibetan aesthetics and spirituality. Through this narrative and direction, the film symbolizes the return to Tibet as an allegory of integration and liberation. The significance of this study lies in rediscovering the aesthetic value of the audiovisual synesthesia of diasporic consciousness in Kundun.

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