Kundun (1997)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  16 January 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 20,957 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.


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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:





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Release Date:

16 January 1998 (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
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Did You Know?


According to In Search of Kundun with Martin Scorsese (1998), when Melissa Mathison first presented her agency with the script and they asked her who she had in mind as director, her first choice was Martin Scorsese. According to her, everyone was in disbelief he would consider the script let alone direct the film (Scorsese is a part of the "Movie Brats" group of filmmakers from the 1970's, which included friend and collaborator Steven Spielberg). See more »


When Kundun is dreaming that he is surrounded by monks slaughtered by the Chinese, the "dead" monk closest to him moves his eyelids. 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 »


Featured in If We Picked the Winners (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

unbearably spiritual movie
13 December 2004 | by (Daejeon, South Korea) – See all my reviews

I live in South Korea, so I didn't think I would get some insights about buddhism from a Western movie. But this movie shocked me a lot. Very beautiful and meaningful visuals, quiet but spiritually forceful atmosphere every single moments are in the movie, I could hardly breath during playing. This movie is not just about one man, but about the pain of all mankind and the way to transcend the pain and sin of ours in a very buddhist direction. China in this movie got a bad part. Ironically they were also victims of imperialism but learned the exact way to extort, destroy the property and beliefs of others by the power of machines. It was just sad to watch. But as Kundun implied, those violence's are in the shadow of our minds which should be overcame by the power of spirit. For me, this movie tells that.

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