The history of the original Dalai Lama dates back to ancient Mongolian times in the 13th century. Since then, believers have accepted each new Dalai Lama as a reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama, and all are incarnations of the Buddha of Compassion. For over two hundred years the Dalai Lama was the head of the Tibetan Government; then, in 1950, China's military took control of the capital of Tibet, Lhasa, and began to dismantle the country's feudal class system, leading to further social and economic integration of China into Tibet; by 1959 China completed its occupation of Tibet and the 14th Dalai Lama had to seek refuge in India.
Serious controversy continues today about China and Tibet, and though he remains in exile, the Dalai Lama continues to be the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people. This classic documentary, narrated by William Conrad, tells the Dalai Lama's historic story and focuses on the holy man's attempts to perpetuate the Tibetan culture. Thanks to the painstaking efforts of producers Walter and Patricia Arnell, we see rare footage of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, which is in the state of Himachal Pradesh in northern India; here, thanks to the efforts of the former Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, the Dalai Lama and his fellow Tibetans found safe refuge; then too established the Central Tibetan Administration (or Tibetan government-in-exile). Also we witness trips to refugee camps in India and Pakistan made by the Dalai Lama; we see examples of the century old Tibetan tradition of Thangka painting; and, overall, we gain a comprehensive picture of this holy man's life – in exile.