Disgruntled city teacher Ugyen Dorji (Sherab Dorji) dreams of becoming a singer and making a better life for himself in Australia. He has spent years dreaming and waiting for his visa application to be accepted, much to his grandmother’s displeasure.
Before Ugyen can go, he’s posted to a school in Lunana, one of the most remote villages in Bhutan. Lunana can be reached only after a long bus ride from the city and a week-long trek into the mountains on foot. From the moment he arrives, Ugyen makes it clear he doesn’t want to be there. He struggles to cope with the lack of electricity and indoor plumbing, the cold, the outdoor toilets and the absence of most material items.
The villagers, however, are desperate for a teacher and treat him like a king. The class is so eager to learn that they come to find him if he’s late. The enthusiasm of the children, especially Pem Zam (Pen Zam), the head of class, quickly wins over Ugyen. He decides to complete his term of service instead of heading back at the first opportunity.
Slowly but surely, Ugyen begins to adjust to living a sparse life. He brightens the lives of his students, who adore him, and he learns a traditional song from the lovely Saldon (Keldon Lhamo Gurung), who sings while sitting amidst the clouds. Ugyen’s transforming influence is felt even by Asha (Kunzang Wangdi), the village chief, who begins to sing again, something he hasn’t done since his wife died.
When it’s finally time for Ugyen to leave the village, it’s a bittersweet farewell that offers hope that he’ll one day return.
The pull of materialism; poverty; alcoholism; lower nature versus higher nature; the power of tradition in shaping beliefs, attitudes and behaviour
Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom has some violence. For example, Asha shares how his wife and baby died in childbirth.
There are no sexual references in Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom shows some use of substances. For example:
- Friends share drinks in a club.
- Characters drink rice wine several times.
- One man in the village is always drunk. He collapses into a drunken stupor against a large rock.
- Characters drink in a Sydney pub.
Nudity and sexual activity
There’s no nudity and sexual activity in Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom.
The following products are displayed or used in Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom: a The North Face jacket and a Samsung charger.
Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom is a simple and realistic movie. It has no fast-paced plot or scandal, but audiences will be captivated by the natural charm of the children, touched by the plight of the community, humbled by the majestic terrain, and haunted by the beautiful melodies echoing over the mountain passes.
Because of its themes, plot and fast-paced subtitles, Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom probably won’t appeal to most children. It’s likely to be enjoyed most by mature audiences.
These are the main messages from Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom:
- You can find great happiness by leading a simple life.
- People are far more powerful than things.
- Good teachers are worthy of great honour and respect, because they ‘touch the future’.
Values in Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom that you could reinforce with your children include respect, generosity, sacrifice, persistence and contentment.
Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the importance of:
- family and tradition, even when these seems old or irrelevant
- community life and helping those around you.
You could also acknowledge that although Ugyen leaves Lunana, he’s both touched and transformed by the lessons he learns there.