With the current state of our planet being filled with nothing but misfortune and misery, it’s the perfect time for a film such as this one to be gifted to the world. Walk with Me takes you on a cinematic journey into the world of mindfulness and into the life of Zen Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh.
Written and directed by Marc J. Francis and Max Pugh and narrated by the distinctive voice of Benedict Cumberbatch, this film, which took 3 years to make, is beautifully shot and carefully pieces together the meaning of peace and tranquillity with some sublime visual storytelling. It’s a stunning gesture to the monks and nuns at Plum Village in rural France where these Buddhists reside, and a joy for the audience.
At first the pace is slow with nothing but scenes of trees and people walking, yet it’s intimate and highly thought-provoking. It is also just the beginning. You begin to see more – details of their everyday life emerge; cooking, praying or learning the sacred words provided by their teacher. Alongside this, the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch as the narrator compliments the tone of the film as he reads out extracts from Thich Nhat Hanh’s journals.
Being part of a community of Zen Buddhists takes more than just the stereotypical vow of silence and a shaved head – it takes dedication and emotion which you can clearly see in this film. The only negative thing is the uncertainty about events shown throughout. Not much information is given to the audience about who people are and what they are doing. There is no real story to it, however it still provides intrigue and a heart-warming look into something different – a world some of us won’t have a clue about. You get a glimpse into how people from everyday life choose to lead another and become part of the monastery – how they are initiated into a new life with their (yes…) sacred vows and shaved heads. It’s clearly an emotional experience for them and everyone around as you see them become more tearful by the minute. The success of this film is in bringing the power of this moment, and many more, to the audience.
It’s interesting to see how and why these people have decided to give up everything, their personal possessions and being with their friends and family – who they only see once every few years, to becoming part of something else, something different. They have offered to give their life to the cause of mindfulness and to understand the true nature of what it takes to be in the present and to be at one with yourself.
Walk with Me is a sense of dreaminess, as if you’re floating on cloud nine. However, it does lack answers to questions many of us might have after watching it. If you ever need a time out in life to remember what’s important – this would be the film to see and you’ll be thankful that you did.