Documentary of 28-year-old Nepalese monk Tenzin Zopa’s four-year, and eventually successful, search throughout Nepal, Tibet, and India for the child calculated to be of the proper age — only one to one-and-a half years old — to be the reincarnation of his beloved master, the widely revered Geshe Lama Konchong.
Shot against the profoundly beautiful, craggy hillsides that ground Tenzin Zopa’s search, the film shows the dual nature of the young boy who is both child and identified as the reincarnated master. As a toddler, Tenzin Ngodrop must at once pass traditional rites and tests of soul memory before he is identified as Geshe Lama Konchong’s reincarnation — eventually offering blessing to the many Tibetan Buddhists who comes recognizing his identity — and undergo, as the little boy that he still is, such rituals, in scenes both traumatic to him and touching, as the shaving of his head for his new monastic life.
The scenes between Tenzin Zopa and the child are inexpressibly tender and knowing, speaking to the continuity of love, as the gentle monk nurtures in Tenzin Ngodrop the soul that in its previous body cared for him from his seventh year forward.
Unmistaken Child is available at Netflix.