Orientalism Through the Lens of Lunana

There are a number of instances in Lunana that exhibit orientalism, both directly and indirectly. One major example is the teacher, Ugyen, bringing more modern, new teachings and materials to the classrooms of the remote village. Not only does he bring his phone and headphones, but he has new notebooks, pencils, and other teaching materials shipped. The children of this town have never seen any of there thing before, and this sort of embodies the relationship between the educated city man and the uneducated people from the village. In addition, Orientalism can be seen in the scene where Ugyen is teaching the children the ABCs. He says “C is for Car,” and the children tell him they do not know what a car is, as they have never seen one. This demonstrates an orientalist lens that the movie has, because it portrays the village as unaccustomed to modern practices like driving a car. This makes Ugyen almost a colonist who goes into an uneducated, remote area and has to teach the “natives” common practices.

Although Orientalism is present in this movie, I would argue that it is not an overarching theme, but a mild undertone in the film. Ugyen also learns from the people of the village, and about their practices, which seem foreign to him at first, but he eventually becomes accustomed to. These include collecting yak dung, singing the songs to nature, and even using an outhouse. In traditional orientalism, the colonist teaches the “natives” or the uneducated. In this film however, both parties teach each other, resulting in enlightenment for both the “colonist”(Ugyen) and the “natives” (villagers). I greatly enjoyed this film, and the message that it gave on orientalism, that everyone has something new to learn, and it’s important to keep an open mind in life.

One thought on “Orientalism Through the Lens of Lunana

  1. Clark T.

    I really like the connection that you bring up here. It was crazy to me that these kids in this village have never seen so many of these things that we use every day. It really does have a deeper meaning and I think that you did a great job and going deep into how it shoes orientalism.

    Like

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