True story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama at the time of China's takeover of Tibet.


Heinrich Harrer (book), Becky Johnston (screenplay)
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3 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Brad Pitt ... Heinrich Harrer
David Thewlis ... Peter Aufschnaiter
BD Wong ... Ngawang Jigme (as B.D. Wong)
Mako ... Kungo Tsarong
Danny Denzongpa ... Regent
Victor Wong ... Chinese 'Amban'
Ingeborga Dapkunaite ... Ingrid Harrer
Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk ... Dalai Lama, 14 Years Old
Lhakpa Tsamchoe ... Pema Lhaki
Jetsun Pema ... Great Mother
Ama Ashe Dongtse ... Tashi
Sonam Wangchuk ... Dalai Lama, 8 Years Old
Dorjee Tsering Dorjee Tsering ... Dalai Lama, 4 Years Old
Ric Young ... General Chang Jing Wu
Ngawang Chojor Ngawang Chojor ... Lord Chamberlain (as Ven. Ngawang Chojor)


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 rAjOo (

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


At the end of the world his real journey began.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violent sequences | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Heinrich Harrer's real life wife was Charlotte Wegener (opposed to Ingrid in the movie). After their divorce she re-married but her second husband died in the war, so their son was raised by the maternal grandmother (opposed to Horst Immerhof in the movie). See more »


(at around 1h 20 mins) A scene depicts communist China stomping into the Holy Land. Unfortunately, the identification of "China" was wrong in the film. (1) The flag shown was for ROC (the short-lived Republic of China, founded by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, defeated by the communists), which was not the communist China's flag. Communist China's flag is all red with a few yellow stars. The flag shown in the movie is red-white-blue. (2) The Chinese government names, shown more than twice in the movie, said "Republic of China (4 characters)", whereas it should have been "People's Republic of China (7 characters)". See more »


[first lines]
Heinrich Harrer: 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?
Ingrid Harrer: Yes.
Heinrich Harrer: Would that make... It's the Himalayas! How long have I been talking about the Himalayas? How long?
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Crazy Credits

As the end credits roll, a view of the mountains of Tibet is seen. See more »


Referenced in Malibu, CA: Scott's Old Girlfriend (1998) See more »


Sang-mo Dol-pa Nam-thar
Performed by Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA)
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User Reviews

If it hadn't been that unnecessarily long, this would have been a masterpiece
31 January 2005 | by philip_vandervekenSee all my reviews

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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Official Sites:

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English | German | Mandarin | Tibetan | Hindi

Release Date:

10 October 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Seven Years in Tibet See more »


Box Office


$70,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,020,378, 12 October 1997

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS (8 channels)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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