Seven Years in Tibet Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ November 24, 2009
At the end of the world his real journey began.

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

After the death of 11 climbers, Austrian Heinrich Harrer (Brad Pitt) decides to add glory to his country and to the German pride by climbing Nanga Parbat in British India, and leaves his expectant wife behind. 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 in vain several times, but finally does succeed along with Peter Aufschnaiter (David Thewlis), and 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. He meets regularly to satiate the child's curiosity about the world, including Jack the Ripper and 'yellow hair'; in return he is exposed to teachings of Lord Buddha and even constructs a movie theater, while getting news of the end of the war; his divorce; and his son's refusal to communicate. But nothing will prepare him for the devastation about to descend when Communist China decides to attack, leading to the deaths of over 1 million Tibetans, destruction of over 6000 monasteries, and betrayal from their very own people.
Super Reviewer
½ November 26, 2012
Pitt's terrible Austrian accent and shallow pretty boy role play are hidden as its coincidentally perfect for the jerk he plays, but such happenstance doesn't extend to the film as a whole that tries to convey some spiritual change in the jerk yet fails to do so. Beautiful scenery, wasted.
Super Reviewer
½ April 8, 2007
Dazzling locations, swindling heights and breathtaking cinematography. A highly captivating film experience, even if the story lacks a clear and proper goal. We follow an Austrian mountain climber (Brad Pitt) as he embarks on a perilous journey into the isolated heart of Tibet. Pitt does an excellent job with his role, despite the fact that his "Austrian" accent sounds awfully contrived. As previously inclined, there's a lot of water-treading progress-wise, and it could easily have been shortended down by at least 30 min. One thing I really liked though was the music score by John Williams. Much of the time, it stays quite anonymous in the background, but there are parts where it's reminiscent of the work he did for the Indiana Jones movies - which is a big plus point in my book. Had the story only possessed more drive and focus, this could have been a truly great motion picture. But due to mentioned drawbacks, it comes to a stop at the "good, but not amazing"-line on my enjoyment scale. In terms of beauty, however, it's close to being a full-pointer. A scenic pleasure that makes it more than worthwhile.
Super Reviewer
October 1, 2009
Once you get past the bad acting, dodgy props & sets and awful accents it?s not such a bad film. It?s not quite the epic it wants to be though and you can?t help but think it was a wasted opportunity, especially as the story is so strong (although historically inaccurate).
Super Reviewer
½ July 5, 2009
This is a Film From the 1997 Toronto International Film Festival, I remember seeing this one on the big screen and have watched it several times since, this time for review. First I will say I never get tired of watching it, its that good. Most who review it will tell you of Brad Pitt's performance, though I thought good, mastering the German accent early in his career. My hats off an a 5 star performance to Sonam Wangchuk and Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk who played the Dalai Lama. Brad is a Mountain Climber who is from Austria, when getting back to base camp he is arrested for being a Nazi and put in prison camp, he escapes and finds his way into Tibet, where we are given the pleasure to see some of the best photography that I have seen in a movie in a long time. All in all if you haven't seen it its worth the buy or rent, its a long one so be prepared for a night of fine entertainment. 4 1/2 stars.
Super Reviewer
July 14, 2007
This is a long one. Based on a true story about an Austrian mountaineer. Brad tries to climate the Himalayas and is imprisoned in a prisoner of war camp. He escapes and tries to travel through Tibet but is kicked out as foreigners are forbidden until he befriends the Dahli Lama.
Super Reviewer
½ August 10, 2006
Not exactly what I thought this film would be, but having a spiritual side I enjoyed the journey and of course a view of the place I would love to see more than any place in the world.

Accent wise, not a great performance from Pitt, but the experience and story of the film are more important.
Super Reviewer
½ January 29, 2008
Seven minutes into this felt already too long. What a waste of David Thewlis.
Super Reviewer
½ October 1, 2007
Brad Pitt's Austrian accent needs a little help, but other wise this movie was good.
Super Reviewer
½ August 31, 2007
It was badly made and I don't think Brad Pitt was ready for his role. But I still liked this movie.
Super Reviewer
November 21, 2007
I've changed significantly in the two years since I've seen this, but I found it completely stifling and insufferable. All I could remember about it was the fact that I was bored stiff.
Super Reviewer
October 23, 2006
A lot of people bash it, but this is one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen. And I cried for hours after I saw it.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
January 20, 2011
Man, Brad Pitt was sure digging on the number seven in the mid-'90s, because first it was "Se7en", and now he's got "Seven Years in Tibet", so maybe if he made a third seven-themed film before getting out of the '90s, he would have been graced with the luck of not divorcing Jennifer Aniston and ending up with, like, seven kids, most of which I think are ironically from Tibet. Speaking of lame jokes about titles, no, I'm not quoting the lame David Bowie song of the same name, even though, as coincidence would have it, it came out on the opposite end of the year this film was released. Actually, Brad Pitt is rocking something of a Bowie blond hairstyle in this film, so maybe in 1997 this film was competing with both that David Bowie song and Martin Scorsese's own Dalai Lama affair, "Kundun", and let me tell you that it at least tops the former, as well as its predecessor. So, what is this supposed to be "Legends of the Fall II: Tristan Takes Tibet" or something, or am I only thinking that because the films are a little too similar to star Brad Pitt and be released only about three years apart? If that's not bad enough, this film is directed by the guy who did "The Bear", so it's hard to not think that Bart the Bear didn't put a good word in for Brad to Jean-Jacques Annaud. ...You probably don't remember "Legends of the Fall", because it's kind of hard to remember "Legends of the Fall", you know, up until you see this film. No, "Legends of the Fall" was reasonably memorable, and it's not like it's that similar to this film, which is at least has being good to distinguish it, though not especially easily.

No matter how interesting, this subject matter can hardly be easily crafted into a unique film, and it doesn't help that Becky Johnston's script has its own tropes, in dialogue, set pieces and characterization, until becoming nothing if not rather formulaic. This conventionalism reflects a certain laziness to storytelling, found in other aspects of Johnston's script, which, despite its many clever elements, has thin spells to characterization that limit a sense of layering to the characters who drive this dramatic epic which is, to a certain extent, pretty thematically reliant on the evolutions of its characters. Moments of uncertainty to generally thoughtful developmental depths certainly shake a sense of momentum to this layered drama, though not quite as directly as the slow spells, whose sense of pacing is retarded enough in Jean-Jacques Annaud's bland directorial dry spells, and really crippled by excessive filler in Johnston's draggy script. The film initially keeps a pretty solid clip, and at certain points in its body, it really picks up momentum, but there are still so many moments of sheer aimlessness to the dragging of filler that, upon meeting limp spells in directorial storytelling, thin plotting's focus, no matter how hard it tries to branch out. In a moment, I will go more into the richness of this film's substance, at least in concept, but right away I must highly praise the potential of this layered epic, as well as the film's bravery to explore such subject matter in a well-rounded, if slightly excessive fashion, and yet, I can't help but question the structure of the final product, which gets to be so ambitious in its extensive exploration of material that it gradually grows unable to keep up with all that comfortably, incorporating certain important aspects too late for comfort, and dismissing others too suddenly, while jarring along many of the other beats in this path. In the end, as tight as this film's length of just shy of 140 minutes seems to be, pacing is ultimately about as big an issues as anything in this film, and make no mistake, it is an immense problem, bloating plotting with aimless filler and uneven material, and along a formulaic and sometimes thin path no less, until the final product comes dangerously close to falling into underwhelmingness. Lazy and ambitious attributes go a long way in shaking a film that, quite frankly, could have truly stood out, but by no means do they succeed in shaking thorough compellingness, complimented by a sweep that is itself complimented by considerable production value.

An adventure drama which takes audiences from Central Europe to the titular Tibet, this film relies pretty heavily on a sense of scale, and Claude Paré delivers on just that, with art direction that orchestrates Hoang Thanh At's production designs and Leo Baumgartner's, Caito Martins' and Robin Mounsey's location management in a grand, lavish fashion that is not only lovely, but immersive. Seeing as many distinguished settings go backed by immersion value, the art direction strongly reinforces a sense of adventure and scope, which, of course, goes established within a directorial performance by Jean-Jacques Annaud that, despite its near-bland dry spells, stays realized enough in its steadiness to prevent a sense of rushing through extensive material and limit an already pretty prominent sense of dragging, while utilizing a combination of quiet thoughtfulness and John Williams' solid, grand score to breathe well-balanced soul into this drama, resulting in some fine highlights. Were Annaud a little more inspired in his direction, and were Becky Johnston a whole lot more inspired in her script, Annaud could have perhaps driven the film to an outstanding point, because his efforts rarely get too carried away with dramatic meat, and when they are really realized, they provide glimpses of a tighter and more engrossing drama within this still pretty grand and compelling epic. Of course, those glimpses, in addition to the engagement value that is already pretty firmly established, just couldn't be if this film's subject matter wasn't so worthy, juggling themes of a man's adventure to revelation, and a nation's peaceful ways' going challenged by warfare that are interpreted too ambitiously to keep consistent in much more than familiarity, but hold a potential so great that a solid degree of immediate intrigue stands difficult to shake. Johnston's screenplay seems to try at times, what with its couple of thin spots and considerable deal of overblown spots, and yet, at other times, it too is realized, with dialogue pieces that are clever enough, and set pieces that are subtly colorful enough, to provide some adequately entertaining material, in addition to characterization highlights to bond you with the many memorable figures portrayed in this historical opus, who go brought to life by decent performances. The cast is sizable, and the more it expands with talents, the more impressive it becomes, flaunting solid supporting performances by David Thewlis, B.D. Wong and Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk, and a worthy lead one by Brad Pitt, who plays himself, only with an admittedly improvable Austrian accent that is either overdone or thin, if not abandoned, but compensates with layered charisma and dramatic depth which capture a sense of evolution as Heinrich Harrer undergoes a long, personal journey. There are plenty of strong aspects throughout the film, and I really do wish that there weren't so many shortcomings, which prevent the final product from, not simply enthralling, but standing out as excellent, but cannot overshadow the strengths which stand firm enough to make a compelling, perhaps even underappreciated epic.

Overall, conventions, thin spells to characterization, bland spells to the atmosphere, aimless spells to filler, and considerable focal unevenness hold a very promising epic back pretty considerably, but not so far back that thoroughly worthy subject matter isn't done enough justice by anything from sweeping art direction to decent writing, inspired direction and solid acting to drive Jean-Jacques Annaud's "Seven Years in Tibet" as a rewarding account of Heinrich Harrer's life-changing adventures in a peaceful culture that comes to undergo change in the midst of conflict.

3/5 - Good
Super Reviewer
½ October 30, 2010
The story is about a self centered and arrogant Austrian mountain climber Heinrich Harrer (played by Brad Pitt, no doubt chosen for his mouthwatering blond Nordic good looks) who leaves his pregnant wife on the eve of World War II, setting out to conquer one of the highest mountains in the Himalayas to plant the Nazi Swastika flag on its summit. Failing to achieve his lifelong dream his team descends to India just as the war breaks out and he's arrested by the British as an enemy alien and sent to a POW camp. He escapes from the prison camp and stumbles into Tibet and the sacred city which is completely closed off to foreigners. Starving and cold, he eventually gains admittance, and through luck somehow becomes friends with the young Dalai Lama. It's the relationship between the two of them that changes Heinrich from a bitter, selfish, and self-absorbed young man into a diligent, thoughtful and courageous adult.

Maybe it's the breathtaking Tibetan landscapes or the delightful portrayal of Tibet and its people and culture but I found this movie very appealing indeed and the ending is particularly touching when he is finally reunited with his son and takes him mountain climbing.
Super Reviewer
½ September 22, 2009
What I do not know is why This film's Imapct on people wasn't as big, as most would expect. It was rather slow, and it's Story connecting into another Story , drove it down,throughtout it's 139 minutes compressed timing. It was Beautifully acted, and expertly shot, Yet this time Editing it's length, Might have made me enjoy it a little more. I wanted to so deeply conecct with this film, but only too the point inwhich i stoped enjoying it.
Super Reviewer
½ November 4, 2006
What begins as a very appealing (but clumsily told) story crumbles into a bloated, jaggedly paced drama. Brad Pitt is an actor who I admire and respect, but this ranks among his weakest work to date. His emotional portrayal and physicality are mostly strong, but his accent is painful to listen to and that ends up being detrimental to the positive aspects of his acting. David Thewlis, who I watched the movie for, is better than Pitt, but also struggles with the accent. The movie stumbles from scene to scene with very little polish and a nice aesthetic quality. Another overwrought, overlong and forgettable history film.
Super Reviewer
½ October 3, 2008
While the story of the fall of Tibet following WWII is no doubt an important one to tell, and I have always found Buddhism to be a fascinating religion, this film's main focus on the friendship of Heinrich Harrer and the Dalai Lama is quite dull and uninteresting, mostly because it is handled unevenly by the director. He skips interesting details like how the language barrier is broken or even how Harrer was able to get so close to the Dalai Lama and instead focus' on the cliché' scenes of the westerner teaching the man from the east all the strange things he doesn't know and vice versa.
Super Reviewer
February 15, 2006
Sure as hell felt like I spent seven years watching this.
Super Reviewer
September 11, 2010
Brad Pitt is Heinrich Harrer a driven Austrian mountain climber. Pitt?s characters intense focus on reaching his goals places the rest of his life as inconsequential his wife, child and his fellow climbers. As a point of reference Austrian look down on Germans (the worlds generally accepted most meticulous and driven people) as kind of careless and not very motivated. Found that out the hard way when I married and Austrian wife. A memorable role where Brad Pitt is acting outside his comfort zone and he excels. David Thewlis plays Peter the leader of his climb and On and Off friend. While climbing Mt. Nanga Parbat they are arrested by British Indian forces and placed in a prisoner of war camp when WWII breaks out. Pitt rebuffs the escape plans of his fellow mountaineers instead relying on his own plans and goes it alone which repeatedly get him caught. The finally escape but their only hope is to cross-over into neutral Tibet. After being rejected at the border, they finally make it across holding a picture of the Dali Lama and claiming they want to worship him. The story really begins there Pitt befriends the Lama who his both surprisingly young, interested in modern technology and very wise. The seven years there gradually teach Pitt to loose his hard driven edge and gain perspective on his life. They leave Lassa on the take over of Tibet by the Chinese and spend the last month of the war in the POW camp where they began.
Super Reviewer
½ November 7, 2007
If you go into this film expecting to see a well-made story of a man (played by Brad Pitt with a dodgy Austrian accent) who finds himself and learns to love others while hanging out with the Dalai Lama and teaching him about stuff and then advises him what to do when the Chinese attack and take over, then that's exactly what you'll get.
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