A Spiritual Odyssey
(by Alan Dexter -
Festival Review, Toronto)
the Enchanted Journey Back to the Source, a new Canadian documentary by
Jean-Pierre Piché and Marcel Poulin recounts a singular and subjective search
for freedom and self-knowledge. "Sadhana" means "the path to enlightenment"
through yoga of the mind and body, but this is not a 'how-to' film, nor does it
attempt to convert the onlooker; it documents Marcel's conversations with his
various spiritual leaders and uses narration to reveal Marcel's own thoughts
during his off-times stormy odyssey.
Fittingly, Marcel's first spiritual guide is an old
benedictine monk named Bede Griffiths who practices a combination of
Christianity and Hinduism and guides his student toward the Eastern emphasis on
meditation and mind relaxation as a means to attaining knowledge of the self.
Beginning at the sacred mountain at Arunachala and the ashram, or temple
dedicated to Sri Ramana Maharshi whose teachings on the self proved an
inspiration to Marcel, this young disciple goes in search of a Hindu spiritual
Swami Premananda is a smiling, soft-spoken young man who
counsels Marcel to immerse himself in Indian culture and tradition as a starting
point to his search for truth.
Marcel joins Bhairav Muni, a sadhu, a 'seeker' of
enlightenment, accompanying him on his pilgrimages from one holy place to
another until the ascetic leads him to the Kumbha Mela, a 40-day religious
festival held at Hardwar, a holy city at the foot of the Himalayas. At the river
basin where the Ganges starts its course along the plain, 80 million faithfuls
come every 12 years to bathe in the water into which, according to Hindu
mythology, the nectar of immortality had been dropped thousand of years ago.
Weaving its way through endless crowds, the camera documents Marcel's initiation
to the ritual.
After the Kumbha Mela festivities, Marcel travels alone to
of the Gods where he meets Swami Shyam (it means 'Blue Space') who helps him
sort out his feelings and his experiences. "He was the living answer to my
questions," says Marcel of this charming, articulate and inspiring sage. Alone,
these scenes of Marcel's talks with Swami Shyam, a living example of Hindu
enligthtenment are worth the price of admission. Breathtaking shots of the
Himalayan valley tempt one to book a flight to India, while Marcel's enlightening walks with the swami prepare him to finally seek his own answers
with renewed self-confidence.
Sadhana is technically straightforward in its approach,
well-paced and coherent. The screenplay, co-written by Marcel Poulin,
Jean-Pierre Piché and Sid Goldberg focuses on a subjective journey toward
self-knowledge; it is not overladden with religious or historic information and
succeeds as a documentary by making the viewer curious for more details.
In our increasingly impersonal world of computers,
multi-national corporations and ecological chaos, it is logical for an
individual to search for a meaning to his life. Some will search for it in
ritualized religion while others will strive to find it in ancient Eastern
belief systems more closely aligned with nature. Sadhana teaches us to
understand the world by understanding the self, for while the world may be in
turmoil, our minds and spirits need not be."
In search of enlightenment along the Ganges
(by Harold von Kursk - Montreal Daily news for
opening at the Rialto cinema)
(Passages) "The Rialto cinema is
screening Sadhana, a unique film picturing the transcendental voyage up the
river Ganges of a young seeker, who begins by asking himself the ultimate
question of the self, "Who am I?"... It makes for a fascinating film that never
preaches to its audience; rather, the seeker's quest for self-knowledge is
very real and compelling drama that culminates with a spectacular gathering that
takes place in the heart of the Himalayas on the banks of the Ganges... It has
just opened in San Francisco and L.A. where it is doing good box office. Thanks
to the Rialto repertory cinema, Montrealers get a chance to see the original
version for the first time."
Sadhana - The Path to Enlightenment
(by Diana Oestreich and Elliott Landy - Uplifting
Films magazine Internet)
(Passages) "Shot in a
semi-documentary style, this illuminating and thoroughly enjoyable film should
please spiritual seekers and those interested in India's spiritual legacy... The
wisdom of the holy men shared with Marcel the seeker gave us insight into our
own personal spiritual paths. We felt that we too received some of their
teachings... Sadhana will either inspire you to go to India or serve as a
fascinating substitute for something which you may never do yourself."
bridge between Eastern and Western philosophies
(by Eric Moll - New Texas Magazine for opening at
the Dobie theater)
"... There are rich episodes of street life in India, and Hindu,
Christian, and Buddhist religious ritual - highlighted by truly enlightening
conversations with a number of gurus and masters... The production portrays the
beauty of simplicity of thought and, through the words of the masters, enable
the earnest seeker to visualize a bridge between Eastern and Western
philosophies. For those who may be uninitiated on spiritual thought or are
interested in understanding how people celebrate life in another part of our
world, this movie provides a starting place on the road to inner awareness."
Douglas Todd - Vancouver Sun at Vancouver's Ridge Theatre)
"... And the film offers some vivid illustrations of Hindu traditions.
visuals of sacred Indian people, events, caves and mountains are impressive.
Coverage of the Kumbha Mela is especially powerful."
Since DVD release
Kathy Onu - Good Works on Earth)
"... MysElf and one of our board
members viewed Sadhana over the weekend. First, I will tell you the
verbal comments at the close of your film: That was
good... That was really good... That was very satisfying than the two high
budget films we watched. more enjoyable to watch by far, and more meaningful to
real life. The scenery is exquisite, the gurus are outrageously human, and I
LOVED that second guru, his heart smile tickled me to no ends. That was very
enjoyable hour, we could watch that again anytime.
During-the-viewing comments: He had the key of keys given to him
right there, did you hear it? The guru just spoke it right there in that one
sentence... Later in the film:
There again, he just heard the same key of keys in different words from the
second guru... A little later in the film:
And again, that's the third time he has been given the same key of keys... the
guru's batted a thousand in giving him the joys of truth in simple words. NOW
the question is... DOES Jean-Pierre's and Marcel Poulin's documental film catch
the keys given, and point them out again to the viewer? in his own words? I will
leave that for viewers to discover, after they too hear the key of keys in the
game of life, in the film called Sadhana - Back to the Source.
Jean-Pierre and Marcel,
you created a sweet experience with sweet people and sweet visuals and sweet
sounds and ... and Sadhana ended with these two viewers entirely satisfied on so
Michele Deraîche - Yoga and Meditation Teacher - Yoga Monde)
"The film Sadhana moved me a lot. I rediscovered
India I visited in year 2000; the crowd, the streets, the country are still the
same. May be there's some more pocket phones today, but the Indian Soul is still
there. I particularly appreciated the transcendental intensity of the film
images. We really participate to Marcel's spiritual quest and feel the internal
energy of the masters he encounters. Bravo to the director. I was deeply moved."
Christian Miquel - Philosophy Teacher - Institut d'études qualitatives CCCM)
"I just saw the film Sadhana with my wife. Bravo!
It's a very good film, very moving and sensible, very well filmed, in which at
the beginning we feel as external viewer and then more and more involved and
participating. There's a good mix of lived-documentary and situation scenario
that we feel naturally melted...
Personally, I find that the sadhu along the Ganges river and at the Kumbha Mela
and the last guru (of the Source?) are the most authentic and interesting,
Particularly the last speech about meditation techniques, so simple and
difficult to maintain."
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