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Kundun (1997)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  25 December 1997 (USA)
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From childhood to adulthood, Tibet's fourteenth Dalai Lama deals with Chinese oppression and other problems.


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


Filming in Tibet was not possible; Morocco was used instead. See more »


(at around 54 mins) The Dalai Lama asks Phalu if they can seek India's help, and Phalu says that India is a new independent country still struggling. In the next shot, it is 5 years later, 1949. This means that the previous shot took place in 1944, while India was still under British rule. India got its independence on August 15, 1947, three years after Dalai Lama asks for India's help. See more »


[hearing the Chinese propaganda loudspeakers blaring outside]
Dalai Lama: They have taken away our silence.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Features The Hen That Laid the Golden Eggs (1905) See more »

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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?

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