7.1/10
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12 user 7 critic

The Horse Thief (1986)

Dao ma zei (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 6 January 1988 (USA)
The story of Norbu, a horse thief, who is thrown out of his tribe in an effort to purge it of evil. Norbu repents after the birth of his son, but he is forced to steal again after the birth... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Daiba ...
Granny
Jiji Dan ...
Dolma, wife
Drashi ...
Grandfather
Gaoba ...
Nowre
Jamco Jayang ...
Tashi, son
Rigzin Tseshang ...
Norbu
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Storyline

The story of Norbu, a horse thief, who is thrown out of his tribe in an effort to purge it of evil. Norbu repents after the birth of his son, but he is forced to steal again after the birth of a second son. Written by International Film Circuit <ifcplanet@aol.com>

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Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

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Release Date:

6 January 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Horse Thief  »

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Runtime:

(after the censorship)

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Number 1 on Martin Scorsese's top 10 movies of the 90s list, which he presented on a special episode of At the Movies with Roger Ebert. Even though the movie was made and released in the 80s, it gain traction in the US during the 90s. See more »

Connections

Featured in Siskel & Ebert: Best of the '90s (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Basic story competes with beautiful cinematography, Tibetan cultural immersion
5 December 2015 | by See all my reviews

I found out about this film via Mark Cousin's well regarded "The Story of Film: an Odyssey", when he outlined some of the strongest features of the 80s.

The Horse Thief is a strikingly shot immersion into the unique, isolated and overwhelmingly spiritual culture of traditional Tibet, a country of snow laden plains and remote agrarian village life.

The nominal plot focuses on Norbu, a thief who is excommunicated from his tribe, to live in the harsh Tibetan hinterlands with this wife and child. Even his elders disdain him, and appear to show no sympathy for his crimes.

The tribe worships a local mountain deity for providence, but during an outbreak of disease many animals and family members suffer, some terminally. Norbu's family is allowed back into tribal society although his penalty is death, and there appears to be no alternative in the mid winter Tibetan snowfields.

The film's plot is almost overshadowed by the cinematography and focus on Tibetan civilization; their religious rites, celebrations, trading and working life all feature throughout. Parts of the "story" are presented as a dreamy montage of dancers, elemental images and Tibetan masks, with Buddhist themes of death and rebirth enacted by the cast, which is one of the exceptionally interesting things about the movie.

Its not really an epic film, and the actual scripted dialogue is pretty sparse, but worth seeing especially if you have a projector or similar large-screen display.


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