Introductory remarks by Professor Alessandro Carrera, University of Houston
Little Buddha weaves a rich tapestry of stories: a boy’s journey of discovery; a lama’s search for his beloved teacher; and the legend of Siddhartha’s path to enlightenment. This exquisitely beautiful film begins when Tibetan monks appear at the Seattle home of an American boy who they believe is their leader reincarnate. In segments that outline the life of Buddha (Keanu Reeves), director Bernardo Bertolucci creates stunning, visually rich tableaux and ethereal postcard portraits. The cast also includes Bridget Fonda and Chris Isaak.
"I received a phone call from Brando. He knew that I had finished my film, and he said to me, 'I didn't tell you this before, but I've been practicing Buddhist meditation for several years and at least three times I've felt something really special that must resemble ecstasy.' He asked me if that had happened to me as well, and I answered that at the moment I was quite anxious about the fact that the film was just being released in Europe. 'Is it really important to you whether the film is a success or not?' And I answered, 'Is it important?' Since he didn't understand I had to explain to him that this was the first time that I'd made a film which was addressed specifically to children, and given that I still have bit of Ego left - whereas he was trying to convince me that this wasn't his case - it seemed to me natural enough to worry about whether kids would be able to get into this universe which they know nothing about. This Marlon understood, and to show that he'd understood, he quoted the last line of Lama Norbu in my film (which he hadn't seen yet) 'Children? We are all children. . .' It took my breath away. Weird isn't it?" - Bernardo Bertolucci
Click here to read a 1994 interview with Bertolucci about Little Buddha written by Louis Parks.
About the Speaker
Alessandro Carrera was born in Italy and graduated in philosophy from the Università degli Studi of Milan. From 1975 to 1982 he was a music critic, a songwriter, and worked in the Milanese musical milieu. From 1982 to 1987 he worked as an executive editor of scientific magazines and pursued scholarly and creative interests. In 1987 he came to the United States as a Lettore d’italiano, a teaching position sponsored by the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In that capacity he taught Italian and literature at the University of Houston (1987–91), McMaster University (1992–94), and New York University (1995–2001). He also taught graduate courses as a visiting professor in Italian literature (Columbia, CUNY, SUNY), comparative literature (Rutgers), and aesthetics (New School University). In 2001, he became director of Italian studies at the University of Houston. In addition to his scholarly and creative books, Carrera has edited several volumes, most recently Massimo Cacciari's The Unpolitical: For a Radical Critique of Political Reason. He has translated into Italian the work of Graham Greene and Bob Dylan. Carrera received the Montale Prize for Poetry in 1993, the Loria Prize for short fiction in 1998, and the Bertolucci Prize for Literary Criticism in 2006.