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Kundun (1997)

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

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Title: Kundun (1997)

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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

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 ...
Edit

Storyline

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

Plot Keywords:

tibet | chinese | dalai lama | lama | tibetan | See more »

Taglines:

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:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

25 December 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Kundun - zycie Dalajlamy  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$28,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£57,729 (UK) (3 April 1998)

Gross:

£157,451 (UK) (10 April 1998)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Martin Scorsese dedicated this film to his mother Catherine Scorsese who had died during the pre-production of this film, because "the Dalai Lama represents unconditional love, and to me my mother was the closest person with that kind of love". See more »

Goofs

When the Dalai Lama flees Tibet, he has a blood blister in beneath his fingernail in the extreme closeup shots. These are not there in the medium shots, although you see his finger clearly. See more »

Quotes

Indian: Are you the Lord Buddha?
Dalai Lama: I believe I am a reflection, like the moon on water. When you see me, and I try to be a good man, you see yourself.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Featured in The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Scorsese's most under-appreciated film?
16 September 2003 | by (Chapel Hill, NC, USA) – See all my reviews

I was rendered speechless by KUNDUN when I first saw it, and subsequent viewing have only confirmed my impression that this is one of Scorsese's finest films. Yeah - it's slow and elegant. So what.

I've long held an admittedly superficial interest in Buddhism, and also been a fan of Scorsese, liking most of his films quite a bit, so I went into this with some biases, but with every viewing this seems like a richer film. I also think that Scorsese was in some ways far more at home with this material than he was given credit for being. The cinematography and performances are excellent - the cast of mostly non-actors is surprisingly good, and much of KUNDUN is staggeringly beautiful to watch.

It has also struck me that this film isn't as much of a departure for Scorsese as it first may seem - this film works well as something of a companion to LAST TEMPTATION OF Christ in that both pictures examine great faiths through spiritual figures in a way that personalizes the divine. This simply literalizes undercurrents running through a number of Scorsese's other films, which often turn on themes of loyalty, conviction and ethics (like the self-assurance, against massive obstacles, shown by Alice Hyatt in ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE). All evidence a worldview where some form of redemption or transcendance is possible. In their own ways, several memorable Scorsese characters - Sam Rothstein (CASINO), Henry Hill (GOODFELLAS), Rupert Pupkin (KING OF COMEDY), Paul Hackett (AFTER HOURS) and Alice Hyatt attempt this, some in ways that are desperate, comically misguided or just plain wrong, but they're all human, driven by some redemptive impulse nonetheless.

The Catholicism of Scorsese's youth places great value on the importance of ritual, which is also true of Buddhism, which is depicted in a detailed and respectful fashion here, and the rhythm of KUNDUN - where the chronology of events isn't (or at least doesn't seem) forced, but are instead allowed to unfold in a more naturalistic and lifelike fashion also seems to mirror Buddhist ideas admirably.

This is a far more complex film than it first might appear to be - far from being a simple biopic, KUNDUN is much much more. Definitely one of Martin Scorsese's least appreciated films.


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