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Seven Years in Tibet (1997, Brad Pitt, Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk)Seven Years in Tibet (1997, Brad Pitt, Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk)

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Seven Years in Tibet (1997, Brad Pitt, Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk)

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In Seven Years in Tibet Austrian adventurer Heinrich Harrer (Brad Pitt) leaves his wife and his country to climb Himalyan peak Nanga Parbat with countryman Peter Aufschnaiter (David Thewlis). But the pair find the wrong sort of exhilaration: an avalanche, followed by arrest and deportation to a Prisoner of War camp now that World War Two has started.

After three years, the two men escape and head for Northern India. Their trek ends months later in the forbidden Tibetan city of Lhasa where Peter finds love but Heinrich discovers his own marriage is dead and his son estranged. Dismayed and depressed, Heinrich’s life is changed by a meeting with Kundun, the young Dalai Lama (Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk), who offers wisdom, purpose and enlightenment. In return, Kundun wishes to learn about the West. So begins a friendship that must survive war, oppression and betrayal if both men are to follow their destiny.

Scorsese’s Kundun followed Pitt out of the blocks and his name saw Jean-Jacques Annaud’s tale relegated to the status of ‘the other Tibet movie’, an injustice to a visually stunning, occasionally affecting human story. The film’s key strength is in negotiating so many possible tripwires – accents, politics, religion – without giving way to absurdity (the French director did the same with Name of the Rose ). For his troubles, Pitt (and the film) were banned from China, but the final indignity was suffered by Annaud. Key sequences were re-edited after it became known that Harrer, who says ‘I have nothing to do with your silly war,’ joined the Nazi Party in 1933 and was drafted into the SS five years later.

production details
USA / 136 minutes / 1997

Director:Jean-Jacques Annaud
Writers:Becky Johnston (from the book by Heinrich Harrer),

cast
Brad Pitt as Heinrich Harrer
Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk as Dalai Lama, 14 Years Old
Ingeborga Dapkūnaitė as Ingrid Harrer
Lhakpa Tsamchoe as Pema Lhaki
Danny Denzongpa as Regent
Victor Wong as Chinese ‘Amban’
BD Wong as Ngawang Jigme
Mako as Kungo Tsarong
David Thewlis as Peter Aufschnaiter
Duncan Fraser as British Officer

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