Coming soon: Tripitaka the Movie

The Nation, January 23, 2006

Bangkok, Thailand -- Massive undertaking to get Buddhist canon on film to cost about Baht 97m (US$ 2.6 mil). The Tripitaka – the Buddhist Holy Canon – will soon be made into a series of feature movies in an unprecedented move for instructional purposes, a monastic spokesperson said yesterday. “Tripitaka the Movie” was likely to be approved to mark the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the King’s ascension to the throne, said Phra Tham Kitti Maythee.

He said a proposal seeking all Buddhist temples across the country to have at least one set of the movie for use as an instructional guide was awaiting backing from the Sangha Supreme Council, which has approved the movie project initiated by Mahamakut Buddhist University.

The 250-part series, to be featured on VCDs and DVDs, is expected to attract great interest in the Buddhist teachings, as they would be shown in a more interesting way. Each disc would be priced at Bt200.

The Bt97-million cost of producing the series would be shouldered by Trai Rattana Co Ltd, a movie production company authorised to implement the project with the council?s approval. Production is expected to begin soon and would take around four years.

The content of the movie would be based strictly on the Pali-language version of the Tripitaka, which would be divided initially into 1,250 parts ? then summarised into 250 segments during the screenwriting. Some 1,250 selected monks would be responsible for the Pali-Thai translation.

The Buddhist University will soon set up a working committee to supervise production of the series to make sure that the Holy Canon is featured appropriately and accurately. Selection of the cast would also be carefully done.

The Council will set up a monastic panel soon plus a lay panel to coordinate the production and public-relations work for the project. The latter panel would be chaired by the prime minister.

Sanan Sukdee, of Trai Rattana, said he would meet with the university on Wednesday to get ?Tripitaka the Movie? included as one of the council?s many projects to mark the 60th anniversary of his HM the King?s ascension to the throne.