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Kundun

Kundun (1997)

tomatometer

69

Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 16
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 5

No consensus yet.

audience

79

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 11,466

My Rating

Movie Info

Martin Scorsese's magical mystery mandala on the life of the Dalai Lama is a visually exhilarating, spiritually ambitious film that goes where Scorsese has never gone before.

PG-13,

Drama, Classics

Melissa Mathison

Oct 13, 1998

Buena Vista Internationa

Watch It Now

Cast

Latest News on Kundun

April 27, 2008:
RT interview: Roger Deakins on No Country for Old Men
Cinematographer, Roger Deakins, comes out from behind the lens to discuss his long time...

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All Critics (59) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (44) | Rotten (14) | DVD (8)

The music ties together all the pretty pictures, gives the narrative some momentum, and helps to induce a kind of alert detachment, so that you're neither especially interested nor especially bored.

February 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Slate
Slate
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Scorsese has taken the harsh mystery out of Tibetan Buddhism, and out of its oppression, too.

February 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Disregarding commercial considerations, Scorsese's haunting meditation on Dalai Lama's early life is a majestic spectacle of images and sounds, but it's bogged down by a routine script that fails to offer fresh insights on Tibet's non-violent culture

December 20, 2006 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Urged on by Philip Glass's throbbing, blaring score, the director conjures a phenomenal, trance-like climax, owing more to dreams, second sight and the mind's eye than conventional dramatic rhetoric.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A great film about a good man.

April 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Careful and respectful, it is everything a movie about the Dalai Lama should be except dramatically involving.

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Vigorously directed, sensual and hypnotic, Scorsese's film is a visually extraordinary meditation on ritual, nature and humanity.

February 1, 2010 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

A challenging, thought provoking, mediative film that sits uncomfortably with Scorcese's previous work is helped no end by a superb score by Philip Glass.

February 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Scorsese's rich tableau of image and music bears a potent emotional weight.

March 29, 2009 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com
TheMovieReport.com

Kundun is surely the most gentle and meditative of Scorsese's films, a placid biography with the scope of an epic, the quality of a storybook, and the dramatic stakes of a tragedy.

January 17, 2008 Full Review Source: Turner Classic Movies Online
Turner Classic Movies Online

There's no denying the artistry of Kundun. Its heart also appears to be in the right place. But for those like me who don't have a versed history in the modern history of Tibet or Buddhism, the scope is ultimately too big.

November 3, 2006 Full Review Source: Movie Views

Martin Scorcese has made a meditative, low key historical drama about a truly mystical figure of our modern history, departing from his usual, violence-prone flicks.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

Scorsese skillfully indulges his propensity for obsessive detail. Visually, the direction is varied and exhilarating

July 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

Though a meditative, introspective film, Scorsese's distinctive techniques cause Kundun to pulse with life under its calm surface.

October 23, 2003 Full Review Source: AboutFilm.com
AboutFilm.com

All in all, Kundun is beautifully produced and honestly acted.

February 8, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Quips Online
Film Quips Online

Scorcese has made one of his best and most personal films.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Kundun is original, moving, inspiring -- and one of the best movies of the year.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

'Filmed with the approval of the 14th Dalai Lama himself, Kundun is reverential to a fault...and that fault is the film's biggest weakness.'

August 1, 2002 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews
Old School Reviews

Kundun is both a stunning visual feast and a moving meditation on the difficulty of sustaining the Buddhist principle of nonviolence in a brutal world.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

Scorsese's celebrated eye for composition and camera placement has never been more evident.

March 24, 2002 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

Memorable mainly for its moral message about the courage it takes to adhere to the Buddhist principle of nonviolence in the face of so much suffering.

March 2, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Kundun

The Dalai Lama is important, but this movie believes otherwise.

Full review coming to themoviefreakblog.com on 6/8
June 5, 2013
spielberg00

Super Reviewer

The cover of Kundun makes you think "kids movie," until you see who directed it: Scorsese. No one gets whacked, and the film is nearly bloodless, (compared to, say, Goodfellas), but if it wouldn't horrify a child, it would certainly bore one, as it's basically a biopic. This may, in fact, be the one time we could accuse Scorsese of Oscar-baiting: Tibet was a hot issue in the mid-90s, and you know how much the Academy likes this kind of story (see: Gandhi), and it's almost purgatorial of him, after Casino, to turn his attention to this paragon of non-violence - as he did with Jesus, too, come to think of it. Scorsese's fascination with violence makes this - and Last Temptation of Christ - a strange choice, but then again, violence can be equally fascinating in its absence. A lot went right, but Kundun will forever be lumped with Last Temptation in the "departures" section of Scorsese's career.

As concerns the film itself, it opens rather dully, with a strangely ominous Tibetan drum track appearing almost too often, but eventually it wraps its loving arms around you and shares excellent cinematography, insights from afar, and wonderfully unfamiliar music (by Phillip Glass). The powerful way in which the music drives the film almost makes up for a plot - discovery of the Dalai Lama, his coming of age, confrontation with Mao and his exile in India - that's somewhat rote, and for wooden acting across the board (language barrier, perhaps?). In all, it's not Scorsese's best work, but to dismiss it is to overlook some of the aspects of his films that - as the Academy recognized, with Hugo - are among the best in the industry: costuming, music, sound, cinematography, makeup... all things you can't really be the best at without having the Best Director, but I digress. Kundun is unorthodox, but if you let it, it can carry you away.
March 4, 2012
danperry17

Super Reviewer

more than any of scorsese's films, kundun shows his remarkable range as a story teller. the film struggled to draw in real emotion at points and reverence shown to the dalai lama went too far in missing an opportunity to show his flaws, but just about every other element of this film was nearly perfect. deakins cinematography was astounding, some of the best of his already mind blowing career, and the landscapes, costumes, and acting performances were all excellent. when this film is set against scorsese's gangster films as a contrast, you can really see the difference between the hate and sin of those characters and the humility and spirituality of these ones. a stunning film.
March 8, 2010
sanjurosamurai
danny d

Super Reviewer

A film I have been wanting to see for quite some time, purely on a spiritual level and because I have an attraction toward Tibet.

I feel I have learned a few things from this film, but at the same time I found it a little boring - which was a little disappointing.

The film, directed by Scorsese, was made well and I'm sure resembled the facts as a true story, it just wasn't as insightful as I had hoped it would be.
July 24, 2008
76Majikat

Super Reviewer

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