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Seven Years in Tibet
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Seven Years in Tibet More at IMDbPro »

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123 out of 146 people found the following review useful:

A moving, well-crafted, and visually breathtaking film

9/10
Author: kaos-23 from United Kingdom
9 May 2004

First of all, Seven Years In Tibet is a very aesthetically pleasing film. The snowy Himalayas, the Tibetan villages, and the amazing costumes and religious ceremonies are all filmed beautifully, with rich colours and lighting. The music by John Williams is also excellent, and it's fascinating to hear how it blends with the unusual Tibetan music.

It's not all surface though, there's depth here too. Don't believe the negative comments about Brad Pitt's acting. Admittedly his accent slips a bit in places, but he does a great job as Heinrich, both the unpleasant, arrogant character at the beginning, and the more gentle and wise man that he becomes as the film progresses. His relationship with the young Dalai Lama (a very impressive actor) is an unusual one and refreshingly unsentimental. The film is well edited; scenes are not drawn out any longer than they need to be. As a whole, it is fast paced but also peaceful, tender and moving. You don't get bored but you're not bombarded with pointless action scenes either.

It's a pleasant surprise to see a Hollywood film where women and other cultures aren't treated as objects, and are allowed to be full, complex characters. It could be argued that this film has a Western perspective, but after all, it is adapted from a book written by a European living in Tibet, and intended for Western audiences. It treats the Tibetan culture with a great deal of respect, so I don't really see a problem with that. Similarly, those who have complained that it doesn't tell you enough about the Dalai Lama and too much about Heinrich, ultimately it is Heinrich's story, and that is its strength: that it is one man's tale, and not a political polemic. It gives you a great sense of how people's stories intersect and how the whole world is connected.

Overall, an unusual film, very involving and emotional without sentimentality, with wonderful music and outstanding cinematography. Highly recommended.

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91 out of 112 people found the following review useful:

A fictionalized historical drama

6/10
Author: typonaut-2 from PA
23 November 2000

Seven Years in Tibet is to the true story what the Sound of Music is to Maria Von Trapp's autobiography. Maria writes in the second volume of her autobiography that she wanted to sue the film makers, and I wonder whether Heinrich feels the same. I thought it was an excellent film that did a great job of conveying accurately what Lhasa looks like, having earlier seen a book of photographs from British expeditions around 1910. And I am glad it generated some sympathy for the plight of the Tibetans. But having since read Heinrich's autobiography, it appears that virtually every event in the movie was made up, including the business with the watch. I don't understand why, because the true story was fascinating, with lots of drama. What is wrong with the minds and egos of people in Hollywood? If they want to completely distort the original facts, don't call it non-fiction.

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59 out of 70 people found the following review useful:

Very Uplifting

9/10
Author: weasleybludger from United States
14 April 2005

I saw this film for the first time last night after hearing a great many people recommend it to me. I don't know why I waited so long! This is a soul stirring movie that is perfect in its simplicity. I don't think it's the best performance Brad Pitt has ever offered, but he was quite good. David Thewlis (an amazing actor who never receives as much praise he deserves) gave a perfect performance. But the real beauty of the film is the Tibetan people and their lifestyle. The cinematography was breathtaking and perfectly matched the mood of the film. I loved this movie so much that I'm going to buy it immediately. I love uplifting epic types of movies and this is truly one of the better ones I've seen in a while. In fact, it's one the better movies I've seen in a while.

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51 out of 72 people found the following review useful:

Cinematography is absolutely brilliant

9/10
Author: ss7229 from United States
23 March 2005

This movie has some of the best cinematography I have ever seen. The movie does a great job of showing the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple in Lhasa as well as the rural villages of Tibet. Not to mention the breath taking views of the Himalayas.

Yes, Brad Pitt's accent wasn't exactly his best but it's forgivable when watching the movie. His acting was superb, portraying Heinrich's transition, which is what the movie is all about.

The movie did lack qualities of the book, the ending was totally wrong and somewhat disappointing. And the whole Nazi part in Austria was completely unnecessary.

Besides a few minor details, the movie is well worth the 2 1/2 hours especially if you are interested in the Chinese seizure of Tibet and the Tibetan culture and people.

(Free Tibet!)

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34 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

An Underrated Pleasure

Author: John Mankin (mankin@rff.org)
9 February 1999

"Seven Years in Tibet" was a pleasant surprise. Sporting an Austrian accent that got slammed by some critics, I thought Brad Pitt was pretty good as an arrogant Nazi who finds himself captured by the British during a failed expedition to the Himalayas and is later stranded in Tibet after escaping from a POW camp. He finds his humanity in the forbidden-to-foreigners city of Lhasa, especially after meeting the 14 year old Dalai Lama. Echoes of "Lost Horizon," "The King and I" "Last Emperor" and others abound, but the movie is "old Hollywood" in the best sense with magnificent scenery (widescreen advised: the mountains and countryside of Argentina and Canada stand in for Tibet). The heart of the movie is the relationship between the blond Aryan golden boy and the young "Kundun," with a performance by the young Tibetan actor playing the latter that is so charming he nearly steals the whole film. An engrossing blend of fact and fiction, the picture manages to avoid condescending to the Tibetans and over-reverent preachiness. Wrapped in an excellent production, this epic story makes entertaining viewing. One question: how did the young Dalai Lama come by his love of movies in that remote location?

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37 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Excellent

10/10
Author: Pookyiscute from Nyiregyhaza, Hungary
13 April 2006

This masterpiece, still makes me curious every time I see it. Brad Pitt does an amazing job portraying an Austrian, even down to his accent. The cinematography is extraordinary, and the direction is quite good. I love watching it every so often, and learning new things that I missed the times before.

The film has a great amount of interesting facts, and takes place in the 1930's through '50's. There are times when it is; magical, spiritual, enlightening, sweet, sad and poignant.

I recommend it to anyone who enjoys interesting and true stories. If nothing else watch Pitt with his masterful portrayal of this real life character, who faces hardships, physically, spiritually and emotionally.

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45 out of 66 people found the following review useful:

Reaching the Summit of Human Conscience and Consciousness

8/10
Author: njsolicitor from United States
22 January 2005

This is a panoramic film exploring the wilderness of Tibet through the consciousness of an arrogant Austrian climber (Brat Pitt). As Pitt challenges Nanga Parbet, the ninth highest mountain in the world and one of the hardest to climb, the political chaos of late 1930's and 1940's, and his own demons, the nature of mankind is revealed as layers of civilization are peeled to reveal an inner self paradoxically more powerful and yet more vulnerable to the ebb and flow of inhumanity. His own philosophical journey is a reflection of political machinations of the time, the ontogeny recapitulating phylogenetic change of western civilization resulting in a complex modern world forever coiled for violence and warfare.

This film has a European pace unsuitable for those addicted to action figure movies with huge budgets and high body counts. I recommend it as a "good view" similar to a good read.

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20 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

One Of The Most Unique Adventures Of The Twentieth Century

9/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
6 March 2007

Tibet has certainly fascinated people all over the world. The hidden land in the most forbidding place on the planet not at either pole. In its day Lost Horrizon made quite a bit of money for its author James Hilton. But the real story of Heinrich Harrer is better than anything a fictional author could have thought up.

Brad Pitt is Harrer in Seven Years In Tibet and this has become my favorite film of his. Heinrich Harrer, a world famous mountain climber and Austrian national hero goes on an expedition in 1939 to conquer an unclimbed peak in the Himalayas. While he's doing his mountain climbing Germany of which Austria is now part of marches into Poland and World War II begins. Harrer and his party are interred as enemy aliens.

In 1942 Harrer escaped and he and a friend played by David Thewlis make their way into Tibet. The rest of the film is the seven years he spent there, centered around the unique friendship he formed with the child ruler of Tibet, the Dalai Lama. This in fact is the same Dalai Lama who today is possibly the world's greatest and non-aligned apostle of the gospel of peace.

Brad Pitt is never better in the film than he is with the three child actors who play the Dalai Lama at various stages of his life. The physical hardship that he and Thewlis endure just getting into Tibet is adventure enough. But the spiritual journey he undergoes in his time there makes this one of the most unique adventure stories of the last century.

One thing I liked about Seven Years in Tibet is that no effort was made to cover up Harrer's Nazi background. In an alternate universe one can speculate on what might have happened to him had he actually had to serve in the army in World War II. His internment saved him from possibly being involved any number of atrocities. God, fate, some kind of higher power saved him for something wonderful.

The cinematography is breathtaking, this film had an incredible number of locations. Note that it was shot in British Columbia, in Argentina with the Andes serving as the Himalayas, Austria and even some establishing footage was shot in Tibet itself on the sly.

Tibet's status is unique unto the world. It has been part of China since the Ming dynasty. It's referred to properly as the autonomous region of Tibet. China has given it autonomy in varying degrees over the past several centuries, it's never been truly independent. The Communist regime back in the days of Mao Tse-tung brutally asserted it's sovereignty a few times, most notably in late fifties when the Dalai Lama was forced to flee Tibet and live in Northern India where he resides to this day. That is when he's not traveling the world as it's foremost advocate of non-violence.

It is sad that this film did not get more box office than it did. Brad Pitt, David Thewlis, director Jean Jacques Arnaud are all persona non grata in the People's Republic of China for making this film. Quite a market indeed to be shut out of for a stand for humanity.

It's to be hoped that one day the Tibetans will be free. Until then they have their unique brand of Buddhism to sustain them and this wonderful film to tell their story.

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35 out of 58 people found the following review useful:

Too long but still worth it

8/10
Author: Sean Gallagher (seankgallagher@yahoo.com) from Brooklyn, NY
27 February 1999

The main problem with this film, and indeed with many films set in the outdoors, is that it's too long. Maybe it's because I'm a product of the city and the suburbs, but to me, most movies set in the outdoors that don't use the scenery to advance the plot or set the mood, but rather just want to gaze at it, bore me quickly. It's like, "Yes, it's beautiful, let's move on." Also, though I like Brad Pitt, he doesn't always do the job with his Austrian accent; even when he gets it down, you're always thinking, "That's Brad Pitt doing an Austrian accent," rather than, "That's Heinrich Harrer." And that whole subplot about Harrer missing the son he's never seen doesn't work.

Still, there is much to like in this film. In many of these "white men in strange country" movies, the emphasis is on what the white man teaches the people in the other country, and that's somewhat condescending; here, it's on what the people in the other country teach Harrer, yet his story isn't made more important than the story of the Tibet people. Also, though his accent doesn't convince, Pitt is convincing as Harrer in the physical sense; he looks like a former skier and like the blond, blue-eyed ideal of the Nazis. And finally, he's convincing in taking us through Harrer's transformation.

Two more things; one, someone in their comments wondered how the Dalai Lama knew so much about Western culture. According to the book, Harrer found the Dalai Lama to be quite curious about the world around him, so he studied what he could. Also, the film meets head-on the controversy about Harrer being a former Nazi; it doesn't soft-pedal his past at all, which makes his transformation that much more convincing.

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13 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Insane Intolerance

9/10
Author: Hitchcoc from United States
17 September 2010

While it take some time to get moving, this is a truly captivating film. It's about redemption and pain. It's about true events which cast the Tibetan culture against the Chinese's land grab. We have the Buddhists on the one hand, and the godless hordes on the other. The die is cast and all we can do is watch. This is a movie about a selfish character and his comrade who find respite in the Himalaya's in the temple of the Dalai Lama. The gentleness and trust of the people is betrayed by one of them but it really wouldn't have mattered. There is a nice relationship developed between the young Lama and Brad Pitt's selfish, pig headed Westerner. Apparently there are elements of truth to this story. One feels so helpless in a world like this with so little one can do. It finally gets to what the Buddhists preach. Absolute dedication to their beliefs down to the last person.

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