Jan Kounen

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Darshan - The Embrace Review


Very Good
Ten years ago Jan Kounen (born in the Netherlands but working in France) was celebrated in Europe as a trailblazing cult filmmaker. Audiences thrilled to his short films (Gisele Kerozene and Vibroboy), pictures teeming with bright colors and wacky sped-up visuals. In 1997 he stunned Europe with Dobermann, a furious crime film starring Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci that plays out like a Tom and Jerry cartoon on crack. He returned in 2004 with the surprisingly slow and mystical Blueberry, an adaptation of the popular Moebius western comic strip. Many fans were put off. Most were stunned. Sure Blueberry had incredible cinematography and spectacular (and surreal) CGI effects, but it was somber. It was meandering. And most of all it was a message picture. Blueberry was essentially an advertisement for self exploration via psychedelics and shamanism.

I interviewed Kounen for a small press mag in 1999 and heard nothing that would suggest he would be switching gears. He spoke about his love of animation and his passion for wild visual flare. So what changed? It was during location scouting in Mexico for Blueberry that he discovered shamanism. This intense fascination -- life-altering on a spiritual level -- resulted in the documentary Other Worlds (also 2004) and subsequently infused all of his later work. Discovering "new realities" changed Kounen; he now devotes himself to further exploration of the science of the spirit.

Continue reading: Darshan - The Embrace Review

Darshan - The Embrace Review


Very Good
Ten years ago Jan Kounen (born in the Netherlands but working in France) was celebrated in Europe as a trailblazing cult filmmaker. Audiences thrilled to his short films (Gisele Kerozene and Vibroboy), pictures teeming with bright colors and wacky sped-up visuals. In 1997 he stunned Europe with Dobermann, a furious crime film starring Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci that plays out like a Tom & Jerry cartoon on crack. He returned in 2004 with the surprisingly slow and mystical Blueberry, an adaptation of the popular Moebius western comic strip. Many fans were put off. Most were stunned. Sure Blueberry had incredible cinematography and spectacular (and surreal) CGI effects, but it was somber. It was meandering. And most of all it was a message picture. Blueberry was essentially an advertisement for self exploration via psychedelics and shamanism.3I interviewed Kounen for a small press mag in 1999 and heard nothing that would suggest he would be switching gears. He spoke about his love of animation and his passion for wild visual flare. So what changed? It was during location scouting in Mexico for Blueberry that he discovered shamanism. This intense fascination -- life-altering on a spiritual level -- resulted in the documentary Other Worlds (also 2004) and subsequently infused all of his later work. Discovering "new realities" changed Kounen; he now devotes himself to further exploration of the science of the spirit.

The results of Kounen's explorations can be seen in his latest documentary, Darshan - The Embrace. The film follows the "Divine Indian Mother" Amma (born Mata Amritanandamayi Devi), a 50-year-old woman who is considered a saint in India and seen as a luminary religious figure the world over. Amma is a short, round woman with a genial smile and, obviously, a motherly embrace. In Darshan, Kounen documents firsthand the spectacular spiritual power Amma exudes when in the company of her devotees and the significant influence of her embrace. In fact, she's claimed to have hugged over 25 million people.

Continue reading: Darshan - The Embrace Review

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