Reviews and Comments
A Spiritual Odyssey
(by Alan Dexter - Festival Review, Toronto)
(in extenso) "Sadhana, the Enchanted Journey Back to the Source, a new Canadian documentary by Jean-Pierre Piché and Marcel Poulin recounts a singular and subjective search for freedom and self-knowledge. "Sadhana" means "the path to enlightenment" through yoga of the mind and body, but this is not a 'how-to' film, nor does it attempt to convert the onlooker; it documents Marcel's conversations with his various spiritual leaders and uses narration to reveal Marcel's own thoughts during his off-times stormy odyssey.
Fittingly, Marcel's first spiritual guide is an old benedictine monk named Bede Griffiths who practices a combination of Christianity and Hinduism and guides his student toward the Eastern emphasis on meditation and mind relaxation as a means to attaining knowledge of the self. Beginning at the sacred mountain at Arunachala and the ashram, or temple dedicated to Sri Ramana Maharshi whose teachings on the self proved an inspiration to Marcel, this young disciple goes in search of a Hindu spiritual guide.
Swami Premananda is a smiling, soft-spoken young man who counsels Marcel to immerse himself in Indian culture and tradition as a starting point to his search for truth.
Marcel joins Bhairav Muni, a sadhu, a 'seeker' of enlightenment, accompanying him on his pilgrimages from one holy place to another until the ascetic leads him to the Kumbha Mela, a 40-day religious festival held at Hardwar, a holy city at the foot of the Himalayas. At the river basin where the Ganges starts its course along the plain, 80 million faithfuls come every 12 years to bathe in the water into which, according to Hindu mythology, the nectar of immortality had been dropped thousand of years ago. Weaving its way through endless crowds, the camera documents Marcel's initiation to the ritual.
After the Kumbha Mela festivities, Marcel travels alone to the Valley of the Gods where he meets Swami Shyam (it means 'Blue Space') who helps him sort out his feelings and his experiences. "He was the living answer to my questions," says Marcel of this charming, articulate and inspiring sage. Alone, these scenes of Marcel's talks with Swami Shyam, a living example of Hindu enligthtenment are worth the price of admission. Breathtaking shots of the Himalayan valley tempt one to book a flight to India, while Marcel's enlightening walks with the swami prepare him to finally seek his own answers with renewed self-confidence.
Sadhana is technically straightforward in its approach, well-paced and coherent. The screenplay, co-written by Marcel Poulin, Jean-Pierre Piché and Sid Goldberg focuses on a subjective journey toward self-knowledge; it is not overladden with religious or historic information and succeeds as a documentary by making the viewer curious for more details.
In our increasingly impersonal world of computers, multi-national corporations and ecological chaos, it is logical for an individual to search for a meaning to his life. Some will search for it in ritualized religion while others will strive to find it in ancient Eastern belief systems more closely aligned with nature. Sadhana teaches us to understand the world by understanding the self, for while the world may be in turmoil, our minds and spirits need not be."
In Search of Enlightenment Along the Ganges
(by Harold von Kursk - Montreal Daily news for opening at the Rialto cinema)(Passages)
"The Rialto cinema is screening Sadhana, a unique film picturing the transcendental voyage up the river Ganges of a young seeker, who begins by asking himself the ultimate question of the self, "Who am I?"... It makes for a fascinating film that never preaches to its audience; rather, the seeker's quest for self-knowledge is a very real and compelling drama that culminates with a spectacular gathering that takes place in the heart of the Himalayas on the banks of the Ganges... It has just opened in San Francisco and L.A. where it is doing good box office. Thanks to the Rialto repertory cinema, Montrealers get a chance to see the original version for the first time."
Sadhana - The Path to Enlightenment
(by Diana Oestreich and Elliott Landy - Uplifting Films magazine Internet)
(Passages) "Shot in a semi-documentary style, this illuminating and thoroughly enjoyable film should please spiritual seekers and those interested in India's spiritual legacy... The wisdom of the holy men shared with Marcel the seeker gave us insight into our own personal spiritual paths. We felt that we too received some of their teachings... Sadhana will either inspire you to go to India or serve as a fascinating substitute for something which you may never do yourself."
A Bridge Between Eastern and Western philosophies
(by Eric Moll - New Texas Magazine)gazine for opening at the Dobie theater)
(Passages) "... There are rich episodes of street life in India, and Hindu, Christian, and Buddhist religious ritual - highlighted by truly enlightening conversations with a number of gurus and masters... The production portrays the beauty of simplicity of thought and, through the words of the masters, enable the earnest seeker to visualize a bridge between Eastern and Western philosophies. For those who may be uninitiated on spiritual thought or are interested in understanding how people celebrate life in another part of our world, this movie provides a starting place on the road to inner awareness."y Douglas Todd - Vancouver Sun at Vancouver's Ridge Theatre)
(Passage) "... And the film offers some vivid illustrations of Hindu traditions. The visuals of sacred Indian people, events, caves and mountains are impressive. Coverage of the Kumbha Mela is especially powerful."
Since the DVD Release
(by Kathy Onu - Good Works on Earth)
"... Myself and one of our board members viewed Sadhana over the weekend. First, I will tell you the verbal comments at the close of your film: That was good... That was really good... That was very satisfying than the two high budget films we watched. more enjoyable to watch by far, and more meaningful to real life. The scenery is exquisite, the gurus are outrageously human, and I LOVED that second guru, his heart smile tickled me to no ends. That was very enjoyable hour, we could watch that again anytime.
During-the-viewing comments: He had the key of keys given to him right there, did you hear it? The guru just spoke it right there in that one sentence...Later in the film: There again, he just heard the same key of keys in different words from the second guru... A little later in the film: And again, that's the third time he has been given the same key of keys... the guru's batted a thousand in giving him the joys of truth in simple words. NOW the question is... DOES Jean-Pierre's and Marcel Poulin's documental film catch the keys given, and point them out again to the viewer? in his own words? I will leave that for viewers to discover, after they too hear the key of keys in the game of life, in the film called Sadhana - Back to the Source.
Jean-Pierre and Marcel, you created a sweet experience with sweet people and sweet visuals and sweet sounds and ... and Sadhana ended with these two viewers entirely satisfied on so many levels..."
(By Michele Deraîche - Yoga and Meditation Teacher - Yoga Monde)
[Translation] "The film Sadhana moved me a lot. I rediscovered India I visited in year 2000; the crowd, the streets, the country are still the same. May be there's some more pocket phones today, but the Indian Soul is still there. I particularly appreciated the transcendental intensity of the film images. We really participate to Marcel's spiritual quest and feel the internal energy of the masters he encounters. Bravo to the director. I was deeply moved."
(By Christian Miquel - Philosophy Teacher - Institut d'études qualitati)ves CCCM)
[Translation] "I just saw the film Sadhana with my wife. Bravo! It's a very good film, very moving and sensible, very well filmed, in which at the beginning we feel as external viewer and then more and more involved and participating. There's a good mix of lived-documentary and situation scenario that we feel naturally melted...
Personally, I find that the sadhu along the Ganges river and at the Kumbha Mela and the last guru (of the Source?) are the most authentic and interesting, Particularly the last speech about meditation techniques, so simple and difficult to maintain."
Jean-Pierre Piché, director:
A filmmaker and writer interested in metaphysics, ageless wisdom, interreligious dialogue, transcendence and
oriental philosophy in particular, Jean-Pierre Piché was born in 1951 in Montreal (Canada).
After his studies in communication and cinema at the Université du Québec in Montreal, Jean-Pierre worked about 30 years as a director, producer, scriptwriter, translator and editor in film and television industry in such places as Radio-Canada (French CBC) and Tele-Quebec (Quebec national television). As an independent filmmaker, he produced and directed more than ten films including the critically acclaimed feature film Sadhana - Back to the Source which had been screened in more than a hundred cinema theatres throughout Canada and USA.
A few years ago Jean-Pierre decided to settle down and devote his time to writing. He is currently working on his first book, Blood for Freedom, which will tell the story of a lay missionary who embarks on a rewarding but very perilous journey among the Maya people of Guatemala in the late '70s when the fragile bridge between the indigenous population and the Ladino rulers is about to collapse. During his missionary adventure, he will strongly connect with the way the Mayas relate to the natural world and be involved in their struggle for survival.
During his career, Jean-Pierre was awarded three scriptwriting grants by the Canada Council for the Arts.