The documentary is not a hysterical human rights diatribe (even though Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins are present in voiceovers). Peosay points out that Tibetan society was never Shangri-la. It was a highly stratified culture, with armies of peasants serving a fat aristocracy. What everyone shared, however, was a lifestyle built entirely around profound spiritualism. When the Chinese communists invaded to stake their claim to the massive Tibetan plateau in 1950 (Tibet had always considered itself independent of China but didn't have any particular international recognition of that fact), one of their claims was that they had arrived to redistribute land to the peasants, just as they had done in the rest of China. Unfortunately, the landowners were the clergy, and the Tibetan people wouldn't tolerate the abuse of the monks and lamas who served as their spiritual leaders. By 1959, a full crackdown was underway, and during the Cultural Revolution, more than 6,000 monasteries were destroyed. By the time of Mao's death in 1976, one in six Tibetans -- more than a million -- had died of starvation or met a violent end.
Continue reading: Tibet: Cry Of The Snow Lion Review