Hare Krishna! The Mantra, the Movement, and the Swami Who Started It All had its world premiere in June, at the Illuminate film festival in Sedona, in the USA.
At the time of writing, the well-known movie review site Rottentamatoes.com, was reporting that 92% of their visitors who rated the movie liked it. The professional critics are not so sure, giving it only 14% on the Tomatometer.
The large majority of reviews give this movie a big thumbs up. Movie goers are reporting that the film is inspiring and uplifting. “I haven’t seen too many movies out there that teach about the soul and bring light into people’s lives,” one viewer said as he left the theatre at the New York opening.
The movie is on a “sold out streak” across America, a reviewer wrote, saying the film continues to captivate audiences everywhere it plays.
People leaving the theatre after the opening in New York were unanimous in saying they were moved, and deeply touched, after watching how the Swami brought an ancient spiritual teaching to the West. People said they felt the movie had a message for our times.
“It was absolutely inspiring, I think it speaks to our times and articulates our deepest need for spirituality,” one viewer said.
“As a human being you respond immediately to his message,” another offered.
“I love the message the Swami is sending out to the world about love,” said one.
“As a human being you respond immediately to his message,” one said. “It was a fabulous, moving experience,” another added.
Many professional reviewers have also added positive messages to the mix.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, writing for spiritualityandpractice.com, said the movie is “A dynamic documentary about the visionary Vedic scholar who launched the Hare Krishna movement.”
Rachael Stark, reviewing for namarupa.org wrote “To behold the miraculous journey of Srila Prabhupada, founder and spiritual emissary of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), is to witness a dream fulfilled; an epic nothing short of the divine.”
“Filled with riveting archival footage that draws viewers back to the humble beginnings of the emergence of Krishna Consciousness and a new spiritual movement in the West,” wrote Bridgitte Jackson-Buckley for Medium.com, “Hare Krishna! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami who started it all, is a cinematic breath of fresh air that could not have been released at a more appropriate time.”
At the time of writing IMDB.com was rating the movie at 9.8 out of 10. This high score and the 92% given at rottentomatoes.com comes from private individuals. The professional critics see things differently. Most of them don’t have as much of a problem with what the movie shows, but with what they feel it doesn’t show.
Frank Scheck, hollywoodreporter.com said the movie is “Lacking objectivity and the necessary contextual information and commentary that would provide a balanced examination of its subject matter, Hare Krishna! mostly preaches to its robe-wearing choir.”
An unnamed reviewer at movienation.com said the movie is “lacking anything like a dispassionate outside voice discussing this group’s benefits and failings, Hare Krishna! never amounts to anything more than a mix of historic relic and modern-day recruitment film.”
Writing for the L.A. Times, Michael Rechtshaffen said “in the absence of on-screen detractors, save for brief mention of a backlash from alarmed parents who accused movements such as Hare Krishna of employing mind-control techniques to recruit their children, the film ultimately feels like a marketing tool for ISKCON.”
Nico Chapin at theknockturnal.com writes, “Ultimately Hare Krishna is not a bad movie. It’s not even uninformative. And yet given this rich history, one cannot help but feel disappointed they simply don’t do more. “
It could be argued that the professional critics are just writing it as they see it. But it could also be argued that rather than criticising the movie for production values, or for script writing, they want this to be a different movie than the one the directors made.
As Gargs Allard writes in tunegroover.com “If one sees this movie for what it is (and is advertised) – the story of the swami who started the Hare Krishna Movement against all odds – then it is an amazing account of spiritual purity, power and accomplishment.”
* * *
For more information about the movie and screenings please visit: http://harekrishnathefilm.com