Kundun (1997)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  25 December 1997 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.0/10 from 20,941 users   Metascore: 74/100
Reviews: 117 user | 86 critic | 26 from Metacritic.com

From childhood to adulthood, Tibet's fourteenth Dalai Lama deals with Chinese oppression and other problems.


0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Haunted by the patients he failed to save, an extremely burned-out Manhattan ambulance paramedic fights to maintain his sanity over three fraught and turbulent nights.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Patricia Arquette, John Goodman
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The life of Jesus Christ, his journey through life as he faces the struggles all humans do, and his final temptation on the cross.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A tale of nineteenth-century New York high society in which a young lawyer falls in love with a woman separated from her husband, while he is engaged to the woman's cousin.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A young man struggles with the fact that his girlfriend was once raped.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Harvey Keitel, Zina Bethune, Anne Collette
Drama | Music | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

An egotistical saxophonist and a young singer meet on V-J Day and embark upon a strained and rocky romance, even as their careers begin a long, up-hill climb.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Liza Minnelli, Robert De Niro, Lionel Stander
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A recently widowed woman is on the road with her precocious young son, determined to make a new life for herself as a singer.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Kris Kristofferson, Mia Bendixsen
Boxcar Bertha (1972)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

During the depression, a union leader and a young woman become criminals to exact revenge on the management of a railroad.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Barbara Hershey, David Carradine, Barry Primus
Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Fast Eddie Felson teaches a cocky but immensely talented protégé the ropes of pool hustling, which in turn inspires him to make an unlikely comeback.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
After Hours (1985)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An ordinary word processor has the worst night of his life after he agrees to visit a girl in Soho whom he met that evening at a coffee shop.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette, Verna Bloom
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Aspiring comic Rupert Pupkin wants to achieve success in show biz by stalking his idol, a late night talk-show host who craves his own privacy.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, Diahnne Abbott
Cape Fear (1991)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a fourteen-year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange
Mean Streets (1973)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A small-time hood struggles to succeed on the "mean streets" of Little Italy.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, David Proval


Cast overview, first billed only:
Tenzin Thuthob Tsarong ...
Gyurme Tethong ...
Tulku Jamyang Kunga Tenzin ...
Tenzin Yeshi Paichang ...
Tencho Gyalpo ...
Tenzin Topjar ...
Lobsang (5-10)
Tsewang Migyur Khangsar ...
Tenzin Lodoe ...
Geshi Yeshi Gyatso ...
Losang Gyatso ...
The Messenger (as Lobsang Gyatso)
Sonam Phuntsok ...
Reting Rinpoche
Gyatso Lukhang ...
Lobsang Samten ...
Jigme Tsarong ...
Taktra Rimpoche (as Tsewang Jigme Tsarong)
Tenzin Trinley ...


The Tibetans refer to the Dalai Lama as 'Kundun', which means 'The Presence'. He was forced to escape from his native home, Tibet, when communist China invaded and enforced an oppressive regime upon the peaceful nation of Tibet. The Dalai Lama escaped to India in 1959 and has been living in exile in Dharamsala ever since. Written by Deki

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The destiny of a people lies in the heart of a boy. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violent images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| |

Release Date:

25 December 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Кундун  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$28,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$72,095 (USA) (26 December 1997)


£157,451 (UK) (10 April 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This film is Martin Scorsese's first to earn a PG-13 rating from the MPAA. See more »


In the movie, when Kundun is disguised as a soldier escaping Tibet in 1959, His Holiness walks through a Tibetan crowd that is singing the song, "Tse-mey Yonten" (Tibetan name) also known as "Words of Truth". However, in actuality, this song wasn't composed until mid 1960, a year after Kundun had escaped to India in exile. See more »


Dalai Lama: Thus by the virtue that has collected through all that I have done may the pain of every living creature be completely cleared away.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Touchstone Pictures logo shown after the end credits is red. See more »


Referenced in Inside the Actors Studio: Martin Scorsese (2002) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Another religious masterpiece from Scorsese
23 February 1999 | by (Brooklyn, NY) – See all my reviews

As "The Last Temptation of Christ" showed, Martin Scorsese is not a filmmaker interested in playing it safe when it comes to religion. Instead, he wants to get into the heart and soul of it. While that film was obviously closer to his heart, since he was raised Catholic, this one burns with the same conviction and passion. The difference is he and writer Melissa Mathison adjust themselves to the way of storytelling needed to tell the life of the Dalai Lama. Unlike say, "Little Buddha", though, where Bertolucci seemed to have no sense of distance from his subject, Scorsese does, so we are allowed to come to our own conclusions rather than having them shoved down our throats.

Visually and aurally, this is also a real treat, with the images being more powerful than anything Scorsese has done before. And while the music here is old territory for Philip Glass, he produces a stunning score which should have won the Oscar. The mostly non-professional cast(I did see a familiar face here and there, but I can't remember them) also does good work.

28 of 32 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
this movie was the FAIL! yongke_yu
There Will Never Be A Free Tibet! lobster_jesus
Funeral Scene... aaron_tavares
the musical score alanbrownstein
symbolism? tekia412
Monk abuses dspadrino
Discuss Kundun (1997) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: