‘The Monk And The Gun’ Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Why Did Lama Want The Guns?

Remember we used to live in a society where women were not allowed to study or vote for the government? It took us a while to get on board with the idea that women should have equal rights. Imagine it’s 2006 in Bhutan, and the entire South Asian country is buzzing with excitement and nervousness because they’re about to vote for the first time ever! The King just gave them the gift of choosing their own leader. But hold up, this is a big deal because the Bhutanese people have always been used to serving under the King’s reign and living peacefully in their cozy little kingdom. In this period of modernization, the prospect of choosing their own leaders seems unfamiliar and unnecessary to many. Amidst these uncertainties, there is a Lama who wants a gun before Full Moon night, probably to “set things right” before this voting happens. The question is: Will the process of voting unfold peacefully? What drives a Lama to ask for a gun? We will find out from the explainer of The Monk and the Gun

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Spoilers Ahead


Why Did People Not Want To Vote? 

Pawo Choyning Dorji’s film is set in the small town of Ura in Bhutan, in the peaceful mountains. Life there is simple and fulfilling, but people there are struggling with poverty. But things start buzzing with talk of elections—something totally new to them! They’ve always been happy under the king’s rule and don’t see the need for change. All this political talk is making people tense and violent, messing with their unity. Meanwhile, people are getting trained for a mock election to understand the voting process. They use three colors: blue for freedom, red for industrial development, and yellow for preservation. The government sees this as a historic moment for Bhutan and wants everyone to participate. But not everyone’s thrilled. Some feel sad about the country changing and losing its traditional ways to modernization. One of those people who is not happy with the changes is Lama, who tells a monk to get him two guns before the full moon ceremony to “set things right.” Here we get introduced to Tshomo’s family, struggling but trying to support a candidate named Thinley in the campaign, while others side with the Lodro family. This creates a divide between them and the town and brings trouble for Tshomo’s daughter Yuphel at school. Tshomo, who works in the government office, shares her concerns with officials, saying the campaign is tearing her family apart. They understand voting is a gift, but what’s the point if it brings harm? Some aren’t even properly registered, with only vague birthdates, like being born when the king was 15 years old. Their love for the king runs deep, and they don’t want to abandon their traditions for the sake of unwanted modernization and prosperity. It’s a struggle between holding onto what they know and embracing change they’re not sure they want.

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Why Did Benji And Ronald Come To Ura? 

Amidst all this, we’re introduced to a character named Benji, an illegal gun trader and dealer. He brings along a foreigner named Ronald Coleman to the town of Ura because there’s an American Civil War rifle hidden in the house of a man named Ap Penjour. You can really see how simple and non-greedy these Bhutanese people are. When Ronald offers $75,000 for the rifle, Ap Penjour feels it’s too much and refuses, despite being in severe debt. Ronald was even willing to offer more, but after talking with Benji, they settled on $32,000. Ap Penjour still thinks it’s plenty of money but agrees to the deal anyway. So, they plan to return with the money to take the gun. Meanwhile, a monk arrives to take the gun from Ap Penjour’s house, following the Lama’s orders. Feeling grateful for the Lama’s help to the town and his family, Ap Penjour decides to give away the gun without accepting any money, saying he won’t take money from a religious leader like the Lama or the monk. The monk takes the gun and leaves. When Benji and Ronald return with the money and find out the monk took the gun, they’re confused. Honestly, I had the same question: Why does a monk need a gun? When they track down the monk and plead with him to return the gun, telling him of historical value, he refuses, saying it’s the Lama’s orders. But after negotiating, they agreed to give him two AK-47 rifles in exchange for the rifle. It’s still a bit unsettling—a lama with AK47s doesn’t quite add up—but they agree and plan to hand over the guns on the full moon night before the Lama’s ritual.


Why Did Lama Want The Guns? 

On the night of the full moon, the mock election took place. Government officials were keen on its success, believing it crucial for showcasing that Bhutanese are up for change. However, the simplicity of the town’s people, who didn’t grasp the significance of the election, led them to overwhelmingly vote for the color yellow because it is the king’s favorite color. This highlighted their loyalty to the monarchy, signaling a slow realization of democracy’s nuances. Amidst this, the police came for Benji and Ronald for their illegal gun trading with Ura. But amidst the hustle of the ritual, the monk was pleased to see Benji and Ronald with the guns, inviting government officials to join the ceremony. As night fell and chants filled the air, the true purpose behind the guns came to light. The Lama explained that in the face of modernization, he realized the need for change, but he is completely opposed to violence. He hoped that democracy would bring prosperity without needing guns or other deadly weapons. Hence, he sought to build a stupa—a burial ground for weapons—to symbolize this transition. The rifle was ceremonially thrown into the stupa. When the police arrived to arrest Ronald and Benji, they claimed to be present for the burial ceremony, thinking it was a noble cause. They buried the AK47s alongside the rifle, while townsfolk contributed by discarding various weapons like knives and axe stones, denouncing violence, and embracing the hope that democracy would bring prosperity without bloodshed.

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During The Monk and the Gun‘s ending, we see the Lama give their new foreign friend Ronald a phallus, a symbol of prosperity and enlightenment in Bhutanese culture. He hoped it would lessen the aggression and suffering caused by his deadly weapons business. But change takes time, right? At first, we might resist it, but gradually we come around—that’s exactly what happened with the Bhutanese people, all for the right reasons. On March 24, 2008, they held their first general election, embracing the world of modernization. Finally, they became accustomed to the idea that they could find their own place in the ever-evolving world. There’s no rush; they can do it peacefully.


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Sutanuka Banerjee
Sutanuka Banerjee
Sutanuka, a devoted movie enthusiast, embarked on her cinematic journey since childhood, captivated by the enchanting world of the Harry Potter series. This early passion ignited her love for movies, providing an escape into the magical realms of cinema. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in media science, combining her academic pursuits with her unwavering passion for the silver screen.

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