DVD Review: Fire Under The Snow

“Fire Under The Snow”
A Film by Makoto Sasa

“I stood still, without answering. Paljor took out his electric baton and shoved it into my mouth and then thrust it down my throat. I lost consciousness. When I woke up, I found myself lying in a pool of vomit and urine, I had lost twenty of my teeth.” ~Palden Gyatso

It is amazing what some people can endure. It would be easy to give in to interrogation, to say the words your captors are forcing you to say. But when you believe in something, when you believe in the truth, it’s hard to break that down. It is especially difficult when what you believe in is your culture, your way of life. Knowing in your heart that all this has been stolen from you, and may never be given back, yet you don’t back down.

“Fire Under The Snow” is an inspiring story of will and determination. In 1959, after 9 years of violent repression, the Tibetan people stood up. The uprising was quickly quashed, an estimated 86,000 Tibetans were killed. Thousands more we imprisoned, where they were tortured daily.

Palden Gyatso lived and breathed this terror for 33 years. From being suspended in the air for hours at a time, sustaining relentless beatings and bearing the unimaginable agony of having an electric cattle prod forced in his face– Palden Gyatso never gave in. His country meant to much to him, His Holiness the Dalia Lama meant to much to him. He loved (still loves) Tibet.

To this day he fights for Tibet. Whether it be freedom walks or staging a hunger strike to garner some attention about human rights in Tibet during the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

It’s not all fight and resistance with Palden, he is still haunted by the things he endured and witnessed. He deals with a kind of pain, everyday, that not many of us can even comprehend. His fellow country men, women and children were killed in front of his eyes. The silence of sleep constantly interrupted by screams of the people he loved, deeply.

Makoto Sasa did a phenomenal job with this film. It is intimate in it’s sadness, yet empowering to hear and see Palden Gyatso tell his story. It is a grim and gruesome story at times, but one that had to be told.

I came away with a better understanding of truly what the Tibetan struggle has been about. I had a pretty decent grasp on it before, but watching and hearing Palden’s story, I feel that I am now a part of it, as you are as well.

Order the DVD at: http://www.fireunderthesnow.com


  1. Amazing file – and what an inspirational spirit. It’s impossible to comprehend what he has been through, witnessed, and endured, but the story is something that we all can get inspiration from. Puts life (and the fragility of it) in such perspective.

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