Documentary filmmaker Mickey Lemle (COMPASSION IN EXILE: THE STORY OF THE 14TH DALAI LAMA) opens his fascinating biopic of spiritual leader Ram Dass with two strikingly contrasted images--archival footage from 1969 showing the long-bearded, blissed-out guru intoning on the role of a yogi, and the present-day Dass, older and debilitated, struggling to lift his legs out of a car. These images reflect the film's dual mission: to illuminate Ram Dass' pivotal role as a spiritual guide in 1960s America, and to follow him on a new quest after suffering a stroke. Dass (formerly Richard Alpert) was a Harvard psychology professor, who with Timothy Leary spearheaded the movement to explore LSD’s mind-expanding capabilities. Along with interviewing Dass' contemporaries, Lemle uses compelling archival footage of Dass' days at Harvard, the acid-tripping community at Millbrook, and his life-changing experience in India with guru Maharaj Ji. Layered between images from the guru's heyday, Lemle uses touching footage of Dass shot over a two-year period, as he struggles with the physical and emotional fallout from his stroke. The "fierce grace" of illness sets Dass on a new spiritual path and like his previous forays, makes for fascinating and insightful viewing.
"...[The film is] enlivened by the zest for excitement and provocation that the 60's veterans still bring to their recollections of the past....The wonder of FIERCE GRACE is Ram Dass's curiosity, will and empathy, all of which have remained unaffected by his condition..." -- Elvis Mitchell, New York Times
"...[The] pic's unhurried, empathetic style complements Dass' own....Engaging and unpretentious..." -- Dennis Harvey, Variety
"...An ingratiating and comprehensive portrait of the widely admired spiritual leader..." -- Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
"[S]eekers of all persuasions....will love this film."Yoga Journal