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The Dhamma Brothers

  NR Closed Captioning

Andrew Kukura, Jenny Phillips & Anne Marie Stein

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Plot Summary

An overcrowded, violent maximum-security prison, the end of the line in Alabama's prison system, is dramatically changed by the influence of an ancient intensive meditation program. Behind high security towers and a double row of barbed wire and electrical fence live 1,500 prisoners, many of whom will never again know life in the outside world. But for some of these men, a spark is ignited when it becomes the first maximum-security prison in North America to hold an extended Vipassana retreat, an emotionally and physically demanding program of silent meditation lasting 10 days and requiring 100 hours of meditation. The Dhamma Brothers tells a dramatic tale of human potential and transformation as it closely follows and documents the stories of the prison inmates at Donaldson Correctional Facility as they enter into this arduous and intensive program. The film has the power to dismantle stereotypes about men behind prison bars.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 23
  • Fresh: 19
  • Rotten: 4
  • Average Rating: 7.0/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: The Dhamma Brothers offers a constructive alternative to the hopelessness of human warehousing. – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times, Jun 24, 2010

Fresh: Subject matter definitely trumps stylistic nuance in this solid journeyman effort. – Ronnie Scheib, Variety, Jun 24, 2010

Fresh: A sort of cross between The Shawshank Redemption and an episode of MSNBC's Lockup, the intriguing documentary The Dhamma Brothers makes a cogent case for prisoner rehabilitation over, as one inmate here bluntly puts it, being 'warehoused till you die'. – Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times, Jun 24, 2010

Rotten: There's no doubt that the Brothers are a compelling bunch, but their story isn't well served here. – Julia Wallace, Village Voice, Jun 24, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews


very inspirational a must watch!

A story of hope

This story was a balanced portrayal of a brave experiment of bringing meditation to the Bible Belt of America. It relayed the hopes of dreams of lifers in prison. It did not mince the horrors that they inflicted on others, but it didn’t sensationalize it either. The interviews allowed the men to speak for themselves--honestly and directly-- about their experience of meditation. I was encouraged to practice meditation after witnessing their dedication to their own liberation.

The Dhamma Brothers
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  • $9.99
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Released: 2008

Customer Ratings