Neophyte director Wanma-caidan's lightly comedic, Tibetan-language drama The Silent Holy Stones (AKA Lhing Vjags Kyi Ma Ni Rdo Vbum) observes the magnetizing forces of Westernization and consumerism for a ten-year-old Chinese boy. Called by his elders to train as a Buddhist monk, and nicknamed Little Lama, the film's preteen character (Luosang-danpei) finds himself pulled ever strongly in the direction of mass media - to such a degree that he can never quite focus on his studies. He spends the majority of his life in the isolated Guwa monastery, out of the reach of "modern" ways and influences, but a 48-hour holiday New Year's trip to see his family (that finds his father carrying him across the icy steppes on horseback) represents the breaking point, and once he arrives, no extensive religious ritualizing and amount pleading from his family can tear him away from the family television and VCR, where he remains hooked to the movie Journey to the West. It soon becomes readily apparent to everyone that the boy isn't exactly tailor-made to forge a devout path. Wanma-caidan uses this smaller story to comment, more broadly, on the passing of traditional cultural lifestyles and religious practices within China.
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