Masters of Heaven and Earth Movie Review
from Empty Mind Films
Tai Chi Chen Style
The photography and filming is beautiful, as expected from filmmaker Jon Braeley who’s other films include The Yoga Guru’s and The Empty Mind. Jon is a wonderful documentarian, and I love his subject matter – many of his movies that explore Consciousness and the Mind/Body connection from disciplines around the world.
The opening of the movie features a master teacher – a 9th generation Tai Chi Master who shares his linage and the styles tweaked by his ancestors. The art is passed along from generation to generation inside one China village from master to student, and taught by members of the Chen family.
The movie really starts to move and become interesting when we see him teach his students, and demonstrate the details that differentiate a student and master – small details, but powerful when demonstrated with the master’s Chi. (energy).
Yellow River and Wudang Mountain
The opening is gorgeous, with Chen Xiaowang practicing by the Yellow river , one of my favorite parts of the movie as we watch him practice the movements and forms. The ending of the movie is the best, with a mystical feeling from Wudang mountains and incredible Tai Chi masters doing practice in a cave with monkeys and the invisible Spirits watching.
Tai Chi is more than moving meditation, or self defense, or a martial art. Tai Chi is a practice of The Tao, a way of life, an art, and this movie gives a glimpse into the world of the masters, of what they strive to attain. There is a sadness as we can see what they (and some foreigners) are giving up to learn the art, although they never give a sense they feel any sadness or regret.
If you love the connection with Mind/Body/Spirit, or you are learning Tai Chi, you’ll love this movie. As a new student of Tai Chi and Qigong, I’m looking for ways to help me understand the complex styles and Spiritual teaching behind Tai Chi.
The question, how does Tai Chi integrate the link between body/mind and the subtle with hard and soft movements as in Chen style. I could have spent the afternoon practicing, but watching Masters of Heaven and Earth on a cold January day isn’t a bad way to go either, so I settled back and rented this movie online and watched it in a couple of sittings.
I’m just a beginner, starting my Tai Chi journey I’m learning the Yang Style Tai Chi through TaiChiAssociation of Colorado Springs. If you are local, come join us! I’m hoping to someday learn the double sword forms. They looked pretty cool on the movie. Wish me luck.
What I loved: The movements, the feeling of dedication, the masters, the authenticity, the scenery.
What I didn’t love: Too much talking and narritive.
What I would have loved to have seen: More exploration as to the actual benefits the masters have achieved. Better health? Live longer? Happiness? I didn’t get a sense that all this hard work was worth it.
Watch the trailer of Masters of Heaven and Earth Now:
From the website:
Travel with us from Beijing to Chen Village and to Tai Chi’s spiritual home of Wudang Mountain. In Masters of Heaven and Earth we will take you where few people can go, to experience one of the worlds most misunderstood arts. You will learn the history of Tai Chi Chuan, about yesterday and todays top masters and how Tai chi has spread and much more. Understand the internal health principles – the Chi and the Mind and Essence. Witness breathtaking demonstrations of Chen style and Wudang Tai chi with a soundtrack from China\’s top traditional and modern-fused musicians. Filmed in sharp High-Definition. Packed with interviews and demonstrations and Featuring: Chen Xiaowang and Chen Xiaoxing. Priest Zhong Yun Long and Master Yuan. Master Cui Zhongsan.