Seven Years in Tibet (1997) Poster


Because of their roles in the movie, David Thewlis and Brad Pitt are banned from ever entering China.
Jetsun Pema is the real-life sister of the The Dalai Lama. In this film she plays the mother of the The Dalai Lama and hence her own mother.
When questioned about his stance on the China/Tibet problem by Time magazine, Brad Pitt replied "Who cares what I think China should do about Tibet? I'm a fucking actor... I'm a grown man who puts on make-up".
Richard Gere was considered for the role of Heinrich Harrer. Though he eventually did not appear in the film, Gere did a favor to the producers and sent the script to The Dalai Lama in order to gain his approval. The Dalai Lama indeed read the screenplay and was pleased with it.
The real Heinrich Harrer joked that "Brad Pitt was a terrible choice to play me. At that age I was much better looking than him."
Yaks had to be imported specially to the filming location in Argentina as they are not native to the region. They had to be given individual passports with photographs and teeth imprints.
Director Jean-Jacques Annaud sent a team to Tibet to secretly film footage. About 20 minutes of it made it into the finished film. This was kept secret even after the film's premiere and not known until summer 1999.
Brad Pitt's Austrian accent was cited by Empire magazine as being third in the list of all-time worst movie accents.
The film differs slightly from the book in that it glosses over the fact that he was a Nazi and member of the SS before setting off for Tibet. Harrer subsequently acknowledged his Nazi affiliations, calling them a youthful mistake.
In the scene where Heinrich confronts Ngawang, the director did not tell BD Wong the script called for Brad Pitt to throw him into the dirt; Wong's reaction is completely authentic.
The Tibetan city of Lhasa was recreated within the Andean foothills of Argentina.
Upon release, the film was condemned by the government of the People's Republic of China who claimed that the Communist Chinese military officers depicted were intentionally shown as being impolite and arrogant. They also objected to the positive depiction of the Dalai Lama.
Both Harrer and Dalai Lama (14th) share the same birthday.
One of two films to be released in 1997 to deal with the Dalai Lama, the other being Martin Scorsese's Kundun (1997).
In the movie, which is based on Harrer's autobiography, Brad Pitt's character is sent to a British POW camp just for having German citizenship, even though he hates the Nazis. In reality, he was a Nazi, with a rank equivalent to that of a sergeant. Harrer even had to ask Heinrich Himmler for permission before he could marry, and wore his Nazi uniform to the ceremony. Most of this stuff only came to light in 1997, right before Seven Years in Tibet was released. The director said he did suspect Harrer had a "possible connection" to the Nazis, but not enough to look into it at all (probably because it was too late to abandon the film). It's worth mentioning that Harrer was never linked to any war crimes, and that the Dalai Lama remained his friend even after finding out this made him Hitler's twice-removed pal.
Brad Pitt was paid $8 million for appearing in the film.
Ralph Fiennes and Daniel Day-Lewis were considered for the role of Heinrich Harrer.

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