Compassion in Emptiness


Compassion in Emptiness

Commentaries by the Dalai Lama at Radio City Music Hall

Produced by Mollie Rodriguez Nicholas Vreeland and Adam Yauch

Executive Producer: Richard Gere




His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Thupten Jinpa

Richard Gere


Studio: Oscilloscope Laboratories


Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Codec: MPEG-2

Runtime: 835 minutes

• Disc one: Public Talk (104 min.)

• Disc two: Teachings Day 1

Morning (122 min.) & Afternoon (124  min.) sessions

• Disc three: Teachings Day 2

Morning (112 min.) & Afternoon (132  min.) sessions

• Disc four: Teachings Day 3

Morning (120 min.) & Afternoon (121  min.) sessions

Region: All



English & Tibetan Dolby Digital 2.0

English & Tibetan Dolby Digital 5.1


Subtitles: English



• Introduction by Richard Gere - (3:00)

• Liner notes essay by Adam Yauch

• Oscilloscope trailers



Custom DVD case: DVD x 4

Release Date: July 5, 2011

Oscilloscope Synopsis:

Oscilloscope Laboratories continues its exploration of independent films with this sly, offbeat comedy from Argentinean writer/director Gabriel Medina.  Medina was born in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the year 1975. He studied film at the "Universidad del Cine", set in the very traditional borough of San Telmo, where he got his Degree in Film Arts in the year 1998.  He then traveled a long and varied road in the Argentinean industry, first in television as a producer, editor, writer and director, then in film where he worked as an assistant director both in features and commercials and finally, and while developing his first film's script, as a screenwriter and script doctor.


Each year, His Holiness the Dalai Lama travels the world offering teachings and public talks to individuals from many different faiths and backgrounds. In 2010, His Holiness traveled to New York City to teach A Commentary on Bodhicitta by Nagarjuna and A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life by Shantideva.

Following the teachings, His Holiness (the fourteenth Dalai Lama, at the time of these appearances 75 years old) went on to address a sold out crowd at Radio City Music Hall with Awakening the Heart of Selflessness, a public talk followed by a candid question and answer session. In this talk, His Holiness discusses ways in which one can achieve the realization of selflessness and ultimately achieve inner peace, which in turn generates a genuine sense of responsibility for the happiness of others and eventually creates a more compassionate world for everyone.

Hosted by The Gere Foundation and The Tibet Center and brought to you by Oscilloscope Laboratories, COMPASSION IN EMPTINESS presents two historic records of one of the world’s most important spiritual leaders and his unique message of wisdom and compassion.


The Documentary: 9

Oscilloscope presents a remarkable collection of talks at New York City’s Radio City Music hall by His Holiness The Dalai Lama: a Public talk from May 23rd, 2010, followed by three days of teachings from May 20-22, 2010 - each on four separate DVDs.  The Dalai Lama  discusses Nagaruna's Commentary on Bodhicitta and Shantideva's A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life.

In addition to a few dozen devotees that share the stage, His Holiness speaks about secular spiritualism to an unseen audience and his devotees on stage.  The video therefore is largely on the Dalai Lama shot from subtly varied angles and compositions.  From time to time the camera rests on those on stage listening in rapt attention or following the discussion in copies of the text on which His Holiness comments or is queried by his interpreter, Thupten Jinpa, a man equally comfortable in Tibetan and English.

Sadly, no credits whatever appear on any of the discs; neither is anyone on stage otherwise identified in any way except for the Dalai Lama during the course of the three discs that comprise the “teachings.”  However, Richard Gere, in his Introduction of His Holiness to the audience of the “Public Talk” which occurs on the fourth day, he apologizes for not having previously mentioning the interpreter who is the single person on stage who enters into conversation with the Dalai Lama: Thupten Jinpa.



Image: 8/7

Oscilloscope provides a sharp, highly resolved and detailed picture in which, despite its being only DVD, we can make out faces in groups of twenty or more, providing there is sufficient depth of field.  This is quite remarkable really, and goes some way to extoll the virtues of powerful stage light (no wonder His Holiness makes use of a visor) proper image capture and DVD transfer. The color scheme is drenched in reds, yellows and oranges which somehow do not fatigue. Blacks are solid, noiseless and deep.  Excepting that the video is not progressive which, in actual practice, makes little difference unless you pause or fast forward, I found no transfer issues worth comment nor any defects in the source.  There was one instance where the picture took more than a few seconds to settle down at the beginning, but when I reloaded this disc in my computer the problem did not reappear.



Audio & Music: 7/7

The Dolby Digital audio is generally clear enough, while occasionally segments are subtitled anticipating their relative unintelligibility. I didn’t find the 5.1 mix adding anything of value, which isn’t surprising considering the venue.  The well chosen, if repetitive choral and instrumental music that supports the entrances and exits of His Holiness is by Jeff Beal and Nawang Khechog.


Extras: 2

It would appear that Oscilloscope felt these commentaries by His Holiness were sufficient and more ore less not requiring additional supportive explication.  Surprisingly, there are no titles or credits.  Still, they do include a lengthy essay (roughly 2000 words) by Adam Yauch, one of the documentary’s producers.  Mr. Yauch places these talks in the context of Buddhist tradition and its current spiritual leader.  IIt’s a splendid introduction and I recommend reading it before proceeding to the DVD content.


Richard Gere briefly introduces His Holiness to the audience for the Public Talk.  In case we didn’t know it, without commenting on the obvious, Gere counts himself as someone who walks and practices in the shadow of this great man, and has for a couple of decades.  It’s quite touching in its way.

Subtitles help those of us who have difficulty understanding the spoken English, which most of these talks are in, but the Tibetan is not translated.


Recommendation: 8

Despite the absence of credits on the discs (I keep my fingers crossed that I got them right in this review), “Compassion in Emptiness” is a must own and must listen to - interactively, in a manner of thinking - and return to program over the years.  The picture quality is awesome and the audio generous.  The price @ SRP $49.99 is a bargain.


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

July 1, 2011

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