After the death of 11 climbers, Austrian Heinrich Harrer (Brad Pitt) decides to add glory to his country and to the Austrian pride by climbing Nanga Parbat in British India, and leaves his expectant wife behind. An egoist and a loner, he does not get along with others on his team - but must bend to their wishes after bad weather threatens them. Then WWII breaks out, they are arrested and lodged in Dehra Dun's P.O.W. Camp. He attempts to break out several times in vain, but finally does succeed along with Peter Aufschnaiter (David Thewlis), and they end up in the holy city of Lhasa - a place banned to foreigners. They are provided food and shelter, and Peter ends up marrying a tailor, Pema Lhaki, while Heinrich befriends the Dalai Lama. They meet regularly; while he satiates the child's curiosity about the world, including Jack the Ripper and 'yellow hair'; he is exposed to the teachings of Lord Buddha, He even constructs a movie theater, while getting news of the end of the war, his ...Written by
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. See more »
The music of Lotte Lenya singing "Mack the Knife" while Harrer is in the British POW camp was not recorded until 1955, more than a decade after the time the scene took place. See more »
Why must you be this way? Why, why is there always a problem? It's a good question. Do you want to go home? Do you want to turn around?
Would that make... It's the Himalayas! How long have I been talking about the Himalayas? How long?
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As the end credits roll, a view of the mountains of Tibet is seen. See more »
If it hadn't been that unnecessarily long, this would have been a masterpiece
It's too bad that the movie had to be 139 minutes long. It's not that I can't handle movies that are that long, but when watching longer movies, I expect that it has something to say during that extra time and that's where it sometimes went wrong with "Seven Years in Tibet". It just seemed to keep dragging on forever without contributing to the story.
It needs about 2/3 of the time to show what a bad guy Heinrich Harrer actually is and only 1/3 of the time to show how he changes and gradually becomes a good man. All he thinks about is his career as a mountain climber. In 1939, just before World War II, his wife is pregnant with their first child. Harrer doesn't want to take up his responsibility and 'flees' from her by going to Tibet, where he will try to conquer Mount Nanga Parbat in the Himalayas. Because he is an Austrian and because the Nazi's already have taken over power in Austria, they will use his successes to prove that the Germans are the best race (I hope I don't have to explain the entire Nazi ideology to you, but that you paid enough attention during history class). During his attempt to reach the summit he is arrested by the British and taken to a POW-camp. After several attempts to escape he finally succeeds and together with Peter Aufschnaiter he succeeds to reach Tibet. First he is his old, bad self, but gradually he changes his lifestyle and becomes more 'Tibetan'. He even knows to get the attention of the very young Dalai Lama and becomes friends with him during the period that the Chinese took over power in Tibet.
I don't know if all that is shown in this movie actually happened or to which extent some parts have been made up. Of course it is all a bit politically 'colored' (the Tibetan question is still not solved until today and so there will always be people who will choose China's side and say that what is shown here is completely wrong), but that doesn't mean that this movie doesn't carry a powerful message. But even without this message of being a good husband and not being a career driven jerk, the philosophical Tibetan approach to problems... this movie is very nice eye candy. The landscapes are absolutely stunning and Tibet really looks like a place that certainly is worth a visit. The acting is very good and it all looks very believable.
So despite the fact that this movie dragged on from time to time and that it should have been a bit shorter, this still is a very nice film. I give it a 7/10, perhaps even a 7.5/10.
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