The documentary “The Buddha” first aired on PBS in April 2010. I’m not sure how long the full documentary will be available online at PBS video. I’m glad it is still available since it was my only opportunity to watch it. The documentary tells the story of Buddha’s life from birth to death. Interspersed are interviews with Buddhists and scholars, including the Dalai Lama. The animation in the documentary was very beautiful and brought out a general feeling of peace. I liked the music the most. The music was not complicated. I think it mostly consisted of a violin and flute. It brought a serene feeling to the documentary. I can imagine listening to the music during a quiet time for reading or thinking.
The PBS website on “The Buddha” has a section on educational resources to learn more about Buddhism. It provides a reading list of articles and books. I also found Shambhala Sun’s guide for viewers of “The Buddha.” Shambhala Sun is a Buddhist magazine based in North America. The guide includes an interview with the director of “The Buddha,” David Grubin. There is also further reading from the magazine.
I think the documentary is a good introduction to the basics of Buddhism. It does not cover the spread of Buddhism. The main focus is Buddhism in India. Changes occurred as Buddhism spread to different parts of Asia. I think the documentary is a good starting point to understanding Buddhism. Perhaps there are other documentaries that explore the history of Buddhism and the cultural importance of Buddhism in other Asian countries.