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Kundun (1997)

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

Director:

Martin Scorsese

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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tenzin Thuthob Tsarong ... Dalai Lama (Adult)
Gyurme Tethong ... Dalai Lama (Age 12)
Tulku Jamyang Kunga Tenzin ... Dalai Lama (Age 5)
Tenzin Yeshi Paichang Tenzin Yeshi Paichang ... Dalai Lama (Aged 2)
Tencho Gyalpo Tencho Gyalpo ... Mother
Tenzin Topjar Tenzin Topjar ... Lobsang (5-10)
Tsewang Migyur Khangsar Tsewang Migyur Khangsar ... Father
Tenzin Lodoe Tenzin Lodoe ... Takster
Geshi Yeshi Gyatso Geshi Yeshi Gyatso ... Lama of Sera
Losang Gyatso Losang Gyatso ... The Messenger (as Lobsang Gyatso)
Sonam Phuntsok Sonam Phuntsok ... Reting Rinpoche
Gyatso Lukhang Gyatso Lukhang ... Lord Chamberlain
Lobsang Samten Lobsang Samten ... Master of the Kitchen
Jigme Tsarong Jigme Tsarong ... Taktra Rimpoche (as Tsewang Jigme Tsarong)
Tenzin Trinley Tenzin Trinley ... Ling Rimpoche
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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

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Monaco

Language:

English | Tibetan | Mandarin

Release Date:

16 January 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Кундун See more »

Filming Locations:

Ait Benhaddou, Morocco See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$28,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$72,095, 28 December 1997, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$5,532,301, 29 March 1998
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Martin Scorsese, writer Melissa Mathison and her then husband Harrison Ford were added to the list of over 50 people banned from entering Tibet because of this film. See more »

Goofs

(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 »

Quotes

Dalai Lama: The Buddhas neither wash ill deeds away with water, nor remove beings' sufferings with their hands, nor transfer their realizations to others.
Dalai Lama: Beings are released through the teachings of the truth. The final reality.
Dalai Lama: Thus, by the virtue that has collected, through all that I have done, may the pain of every living creature be completely cleared away.
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 DavidSee 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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