Incense, directed by Ning Hao, 2002, China

Buddhist Monkpious and living in a small village called Nan Xiao Zhai in Shaanxi Province where the villagers’s life revolves around live stock; feels important to do what he does in the village where slaughtering of sheep takes places daily, which violates Buddhist taboo against killing; content until one day the Buddha statue in his dilapidated temple collapses; with pilgrims to his temple as few as it is and even fewer donations, feels it imperative to fix the statue which, given its size, would cost about 3,000 yuan to repair! told that there are two ways for him: to resume secular life or move to join others in bigger monasteries;

after repeated failures to have immediate financial assistance from proper authorities in his region, begins looking into other sources of money like friends and relatives, but decides against their suggestions that he return to secular society and get married; borrows a bicycle and goes begging alms in nearby towns and villages, which puts him in contact with police, prostitutes, vendors, gangsters, that open his eyes to modern life in China that is often morally repugnant and reprehensible;

dejected, beaten up and even jailed, he also learns to adapt to modern life as most people live it; tells falsehood to people who pay him for what they wish to hear, and who contribute money in order for their names to appear on his records of merit to atone their misdeeds; makes money as a fortune teller and palm reader; has the statue fully repaired in the end after he has enough money, and even managers to broadcast Buddhist songs and music through village loud speakers from a small tape recorder; told by authority that his temple is to be demolished soon to make room for a highway

Officer, in charge of religious affairs in the county government; appears to be friendly and willing to help; but tells the monk that he has directives from above to save big Buddhist temples and to abandon small ones; advises the monk to resume secular life; very supportive of renovation project of local Christian church

Xiao Anin charge of cultural relics in the county government; with no money to give to the monk but interested in buying the window frames in his temple as antique; writes a 2,000 yuan worthless government I.O.U. to the monks after he brings to him the frames;

Uncle, the owner of a barbar shop; also asks the monk to resume secular life; even offer to give him a free haricut and massage; shop soon shut down by the police under the suspicion that it is an underground brothel


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