||This paper aims to argue that the Buddhist turn of Hollywood film is illustrated by The Matrix (1999), Shutter Island (2010) and Inception (2012). Buddhist films thus came as a genre that begins to influence the production of Hollywood films when International Buddhist Film Festival (IBFF), founded in 2000, began to launch the concept of the Buddhist film in 2003 in Los Angeles, according to John Whalen-Bridge’s Some (Hollywood) Versions of Enlightenment (1). Buddhism, with its “inherent adaptability” to various fields, has been employed as a filmic element in Hollywood films, and has its secular form in American culture (Brannigan 109). Through the thesis of Buddhist turn of Hollywood films, I try to tackle the following questions: first, why does the Hollywood films need Buddhist thinking as a filmic element? Or, in other words, why does Buddhism need to be employed by Hollywood films? Second, in what way is Buddhist emptiness being appropriated in Hollywood non-Buddhist Buddhist films?|
Human suffering is the core concept in Buddhism and psychology, both of which try to find solutions to ending the suffering in life. Hollywood films as an emerging media play the role of storytelling from which the unenlightened people can find the path to liberate. By storytelling of Hollywood films, people having attached to the self are more likely to accept the ultimate truth of emptiness. Since Buddhism is appropriated by Hollywood films, it is inevitable to see Buddhist secularization that satisfies oriental fantasy and illustrates understandings of Buddhism in an American way. In chapter one, to emphasize the issue of human suffering, I introduce the Buddhist thought of Four Noble Truths and their functions in Hollywood films. In chapter two, I will discuss Buddhist and psychological aspects of human suffering, or trauma, and the problematic issue of self through Hollywood films. In chapter three, once the catalyst and formation of suffering is deciphered, we should focus on the Buddhist wisdom of emptiness that can help people liberate from the prison of mind. To understand emptiness, I will explain it through five aggregates in the Heart Sutra and the logic of negation in the Diamond Sutra, as well as the illustrations in Hollywood films. The combination of Buddhism and Hollywood films can present the American understanding of Buddhism, and the offer a new approach to film criticism.
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The Matrix. Dir. The Wachowskis. Perf. Keanu Reeves. Warner Bros. 1999. Film.
Shutter Island. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Perf. Leonardo DiCaprio. Paramount Pictures. 2010. Film.
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