Awake: The Life of Yogananda 2.0 stars

Awake: The Life of Yogananda movie poster

Co-directors Paola DiFlorio and Lisa Leeman take on the daunting task of telling the story of a spiritual man’s material life. Paramahansa Yogananda is probably best known as the author of The Autobiography of a Yogi, and as the Indian Swami who introduced yoga and meditation to mainstream America in the 1920s. The two keep things lively by making good use of old film footage, and they have assembled an interesting mix of talking heads — physicists, theologians, brain specialists, etc. — to explicate and expound on the Master’s thought. (We also hear from the man himself, both in recordings and voice-acted texts.) There’s ample cultural context as well: excitement over a man preaching the science of religion in a science-minded age vs. resentment and suspicion toward a dark-skinned foreign type who preached universal love. It’s not quite hagiography, but it’s almost hard not to get caught up in the film’s admiring tone. 2014.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.


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