In my opinion, making the film for a broad audience on religious bases is tremendously hard, however, it is achievable with experienced crew and actors. The outstanding work with the camera and choosing right soundtracks, which is almost identical with your feelings, and, most importantly, structured and well-mixed plot made "Little Buddha" piece of art in French film-making industry. Despite that film did not recoup itself and got several negative responses from critics, Bernardo Bertolucci made a great effort to think about our pathway to enlightenment through parallel story of Lama Norbu's important mission and Siddharta's story.
The key element of each film is the creating specialty in the plot, and, in our case, it is parallelism. During the watch time, you feel that film tries to show the correlation between the historical chronology of Siddharta's life and Jesse's trip to the Tibet. The first example could be affinity of Dean's rejection and not believe into the specialty of his son and the King's dissatisfaction with words of astrology, who claimed that newborn boy would not be a king, as King had wished. Secondly, scenes of Siddharta's discovering another reality, such as poverty, illness, and old-age, have even more similarities with the moment when Jesse tries to catch up Raju's brother. For example, buildings, which are placed in identical places; people with rotating tools, which I suppose are used to mill the rice of another grain; and, most importantly, discovering a process of pot-making. Basing on these facts, we may assume that Mr. Bertolucci tried to show a present-day pathway to the nirvana through the connection among stories of Siddharta and Jesse.
Another critical part of the film is the quality of the image and sound. Professionality of operators and designers could be tracked with the picked atmospheres for different scenes. For example, the flashback sights with Siddharta's story are expressing warm atmosphere of ancient South-East Asia through rightly chosen temples, rich and colorful costume design and other details in the background. Meanwhile, the sadness and hopelessness in Conrad's family are shown through the cold and obscure image with the big amount of emptiness in the house. All these scenes are accompanying with Mr. Sakamoto's compositions, which express exact feelings of the viewer and by that, adding the right tune to the atmosphere. Furthermore, the smooth flow from Siddharta's life story to Jesse's adventure and vice versa is always keeping viewers' attention on both storylines, which definitely supplements the plot.
To conclude with, despite that the "Little Buddha" is based on the essential history of Buddhism and closely related with it, the film is worthy for a broad audience, because of its way of expressing some important thoughts about consciousness in the modern world.