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directed by Emma Hindley
UK 2006


After the popular and successful TV and DVD collaborations The Lost World of Mitchell & Kenyon and The Lost World of Friese-Greene, the BFI and BBC have co-produced a new programme The Lost World of Tibet, broadcast on BBC Four on 3 March 2008. This DVD features the 90-minute Director's Cut.

A rare treasure trove of amazing colour footage, preserved and restored by the BFI, The Lost World of Tibet reveals the story of the Dalai Lama and his secret Himalayan kingdom in a way never told before.

An exclusive interview with the Dalai Lama, focusing on his early life and childhood is intercut with colour archive film from the 1930s, '40s and '50s as well as revealing interviews with ordinary Tibetan people who remember life before China sent in troops.

Presented by Dan Cruickshank, this astonishing film allows us to glimpse into the rich culture of Tibet, showing us ancient ceremonies, Buddhist rituals and family life, from a time before Tibetan people lost their country, nearly 50 years ago.
We were just so engrossed in our little pond, recalls one interviewee. We knew nothing, what was happening in the world, what could happen. And so we lost our country.

Excerpt of review from BFI located HERE

Theatrical Release: November 2006

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - PAL

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Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:29:12

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.44 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Worldwide TV version (59:21)
• Footage of contemporary life in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala (22:53)
• Color archival footage of Tibetan flora and fauna (5:32)

DVD Release Date: March 10th, 2008
Keep Case

Chapters 16



"The Lost World of Tibet", the third co-production between the BFI and the BBC in their "Lost World of..." trilogy (The other two can be found HERE and HERE and like the previous releases this one uses older footage stored in the BFI's vaults to explore a specific time and place that no longer exists anymore. Unfortunately, unlike those other two releases, host Dan Cruickshank found himself unable to film in the footage's original location, for as he explains in show it is illegal to discuss China's annexation of the country within its borders. So instead, the crew did the next best thing, shooting in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, the Tibetan capital in exile in Northern India. What's more, this release also stands out from the previous two in that many of the subjects that were recorded in the 30s, 40s, and 50s were still alive at the time that the show was made, so we get many wonderful shots of the now elderly subjects looking back on their younger days and commenting on them. Of course, the most interesting reactions come from the Dalai Lama himself, who is shown footage of his family and himself as young child. Overall, the film provides a fascinating glimpse into Tibet back when it was an independent nation, as while as a look into the lives of those who survived the days of initial Chinese rule and escaped across the border.

When discussing the image, we would be best served breaking things down into two separate analyses. First, there is the footage taken from the original British filmmakers from the 1930s-50s. The material looks slightly rough, as it was probably shot on 16 mm or maybe even 8mm stock in some instances, but is almost certainly in as good as or even better shape than most other non-professionally recorded film from those days. Moreover, despite the dullness of the image, there is surprisingly little in the way of dirt or damage on the prints. Now on to the contemporary footage. The good news is that the level of clarity here is much sharper, but since this was a television production, the picture is interlaced and has very noticeable combing. While this can be expected from a television production from the middle part of the last decade, it can be distracting.

The news is better with the sound. Unless I remember incorrectly, all of the older footage is silent and therefore narrated by Cruickshank or one of the participants who are watching it. The dialogue is very crisp and clear, and there is no discernible instance of distortion or unwanted background noise in the Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. The subtitles are likewise unobtrusive to the image and can be chosen for the whole release, rather than just the Tibetan dialogue.

There are four extras to discuss with this release. First, there is a foldout essay included on the disc that details the production of the film. Second, there's an international version of the show that has been trimmed down to 60 minutes and omits Cruickshank entirely, both replacing his narration and excising all footage of him. Third, there's more older footage of Tibet, focusing on the region's flora and fauna. For my money though, the best of the extras was the additional footage of life in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, which provides a glimpse into how the monks, nuns, and initiates have adapted both to life in exile and to the needs of the early 21st century.

Despite some concern over the interlacing, this is another easy recommendation. Keep up the good work!

 - Brian Montgomery


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