Little Buddha

May 25th, 1994


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Lama Norbu comes to Seattle in search of the reincarnation of his dead teacher, Lama Dorje. His search leads him to young Jesse Conrad...

Release Year: 1993

Rating: 5.8/10 (7,780 voted)

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Bridget Fonda, Ruocheng Ying

Lama Norbu comes to Seattle in search of the reincarnation of his dead teacher, Lama Dorje. His search leads him to young Jesse Conrad, Raju, a waif from Kathmandu, and an upper class Indian girl. Together, they journey to Bhutan where the three children must undergo a test to prove which is the true reincarnation. Interspersed with this, is the story of Siddharta, later known as the Buddha. It traces his spiritual journey from ignorance to true enlightenment.

Writers: Bernardo Bertolucci, Rudy Wurlitzer

Keanu Reeves - Siddhartha
Ruocheng Ying - Lama Norbu (as Ying Ruocheng)
Chris Isaak - Dean Conrad
Bridget Fonda - Lisa Conrad
Alex Wiesendanger - Jesse Conrad
Raju Lal - Raju
Greishma Makar Singh - Gita
Sogyal Rinpoche - Kenpo Tenzin
Ven. Khyongla Rato Rinpoche - Abbot
Ven. Geshe Tsultim Gyelsen - Lama Dorje
Jo Champa - Maria
Jigme Kunsang - Champa
Thubtem Jampa - Punzo
Surekha Sikri - Sonali
T.K. Lama - Sanjay

Release Date: 25 May 1994

Filming Locations: Bhutan

Box Office Details

Budget: $35,000,000(estimated)

Opening Weekend: $873,983 (USA) (27 May 1994) (126 Screens)

Gross: $4,858,139 (USA)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | Australia:

Did You Know?

For the scene in the forest with the ascetics where Siddartha becomes emaciated from lack of food, Keanu Reeves went on a crash diet of oranges and water.

Errors in geography: Early in the movie, when Kenpo and the 3 other Tibetan monks are driving north on the top level of WA-99 the movie cuts to a separate shot of the same group now traveling north on Interstate-5 and then again south on the lower level of the WA-99 viaduct. However, as the scene continues, the group ends up atop the Queen Anne neighborhood, which is a northern part of Seattle.

Lama Norbu: [Narrating] One day Siddhartha heard an old musician on a passing boat speaking to his people.
Old Musician: If you tighten the string too much it will snap and if you leave it too slack, it won't play.
Lama Norbu: [continues narrating] Suddenly, Siddhartha realized that these simple words held the great truth, and that in all these years he had been following the wrong path.

User Review

Nothing wrong with slow.


I certainly disagree with the commentary that calls this movie plotless. I agree that it's slow, but what's wrong with slow? Roger Ebert put the movie down by calling it 'Buddhist Sunday School.' True, the Buddha parts are simplistic, but then so is the original Buddha story. Slow, thoughtful, peaceful, subtly stimulating, and with a plot to end all plots-- the one-ness of all individuality. I much prefer this to the more recent Kundun, which tries to tell essentially the same story. In fact, Scorsese rips this movie off dreadfully, even to the same wiping out of the sand pattern at the end.