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Rebecca Whiting | Beautiful Bell Gardens, CA | 05/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a story about a stubborn and arrogant man who needs to push his body to its absolute limits, but who dedicates very little of his energy to his soul or intellect. That's the concept the unites this film and the book on which it was based. But ultimately films owe no debt to the books or the reality on which they are based (read the book "Monster" by the late screenwriter and author John Gregory Dunne if you need to get that straight).
Brad Pitt is not unwatchable as Heinrich Harrer, but you may cringe at his Austrian accent. Just remember that this film may not have been made at all without his interest and participation, and it wouldn't have been permitted the sort of budget that gave us the amazing landscapes which dominate the movie.
I suppose once they had their big star, casting went for the very finest actors they could find regardless of their status: therefore, we have two beautifully resonant performances by David Thewlis as Pitt's climbing companion and Lhapka Tsamchoe as the Love Interest.
This movie is about Heinrich Harrer, but there is some focus on his ties to the Dalai Lama. Very little screen time is spent in the camp for enemy aliens (those were YEARS of his life) or the difficult scrabble simply to exist once he escaped. The shots of the Dalai Lama's early childhood are there not only to foreshadow the important role the Dalai Lama ultimately plays, but also to establish a link between the child who befriends Harrer and the son who Harrer does not know.
The authenticity and detail of Tibetan life, dress, buildings, and so forth is rare and overwhelming. Even if it was staged, it is a good record of a lost time.
Further praise to the screenwriter (Becky Johnston) who translated a good book into a good movie. The addition of a few good laugh lines and the general development of character were well done.
Heinrich Harrer is an interesting man and merits a movie about his life. Of course, the elements of living in Tibet and developing a friendship with the Dalai Lama are crucial to the interest. For my part I've watched the movie several times and I always get deliciously lost in the scenery."
Rebecca Johnson | Washington State | 12/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are so many spiritual moments in this movie. I was literally captivated from start to finish. The theme of mountain climbing was fascinating and the sheer beauty of the snow laden mountains gives the story a purity of spirit.
In my humble opinion, this is Brad Pitt's finest movie yet. As the Austrian mountain climber, Heinrich Harrer, he brings a sexy warmth to a freezing climate. At first Heinrich is only concerned with his own existence and is quite out of touch with his spiritual self. He abruptly leaves his very pregnant wife to fend for herself as he runs off to join an expedition to climb Nanga Parbat in British India in 1939.
He seems to be on a personal journey with destiny lending a hand. While climbing, he is captured and spends time as a prisoner of war. Not even this experience breaks the chains that seems to hold his soul captive. In his case, the enemy doesn't help him to develop patience and compassion. It takes the heart of a child to show him why he should climb down from the mountain of his own pride, so he can take on a higher challenge, love.
This is a breathtakingly beautiful story of two souls who find one another under the most hostile situation. For a brief moment in time, they know true friendship, despite the age and cultural differences.
Unfortunately, mankind is rarely happy with what they have and when Tibet comes under attack, the tranquility and harmony of the Tibetan city of Lhasa is completely destroyed.
While humans have the ability to destroy one another, they also have the ultimate responsibility to love one another and nothing is more difficult when your philosophies of life clash so horribly. While peace is the ultimate goal, this movie brings the realization that evil is alive and well and that at times, evil seems to have an upper hand in many countries.
Still, the hope for peace and happiness for every human burns in some hearts like a flame for the rest of the world to see. Finding a reason to live in a difficult situation and not running from your responsibilities to friends, family and country is also emphasized.
Thoughtful and will leave you with a feeling of peace and hope.
Quotes from the Dalai Lama I found recently:
When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect towards others.
We have to take seriously our concern for all of humanity. When we focus on our individuality, humanity inevitably suffers. Whether we love humanity or not, we must realize that we are part of it. That is why being compassionate is actually in my own best interest. And a symptom of my own peace of mind that I can share comfort with others around me.
It is constructive and worthwhile to analyze our emotions, including compassion and our sense of caring, so that we can become more calm and happy. Hatred, jealousy, and fear hinder peace of mind. When you're angry or unforgiving, for example, your mental suffering is constant. It is better to forgive than to spoil your peace of mind with ill feelings.
Altruism is the best source of happiness. There is no doubt about it.
~The Rebecca Review"
New respect for Brad Pitt
Rebecca Whiting | 09/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I watched this movie for the first time when it was released in the theaters -- at that time I thought it was good, but not great. Since then, I've had a chance to attend an event in which the Dalai Lama spoke, and have come to see this movie in a new light. The story of the personal transformation of Harrar is uplifting and inspiring. I was moved by the tenderness between the young Dalai Lama and Heinreich Harrar. I used to be one of those that thought Brad Pitt was more suited to roles in "teen movies," but seeing "Seven Years in Tibet" proved me wrong. He has a depth in his acting that I didn't realize before. He portrayed Harrar with sophistication and complexity. He showed the arrogant, selfish side of his character with equal believability as his portrayal of the tenderness and grief Harrar must have felt in his growing love for his friends in Tibet."
Disturbing but beautiful depiction of the plight of the Tibe
Terence | 05/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Chinese genocide of the Tibetans is one of the most disgusting and disturbing events in modern history, on par with the Nazi treatment of the Jews. This is doubled by the fact that the western powers did and are doing nothing as members of an ancient civilisation dedicated to spiritual practice are exterminated by the chinese. There are those who will deny this fact, if you are that ignorant then do not watch this film and write pathetic, twisted comments. If you are more of a human being then you will enjoy this film. Far from perfect, the depictions of what Lhasa once looked like before the Chinese invasion are breath taking. The film shows Tibetan Buddhist monks being shot in cold blood by Chinese soldiers. This is shocking as it should be. This is what happened to thousands of monks in 6,400 monasteries. In the words of the Dalai Lama, 1,200,000 Tibetans have died as a direct result of Chinese occupation policies. If you view this film and enjoy it, you might want to read of the plight of Tibet by the Dalai Lama himself. 'My Land and my People,' is an excellent book."
Rebecca Johnson | 12/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Seven Years in Tibet is the story of Heinrich Harrer, a german mountain climber, peripheral nazi party member, political prisoner, and egoist. He is off to defeat Nanga Parbet (probably messed up the spelling), a mountain in the Himalayas. Events occur, blah, and he is taken as a POW by some british troops at base camp. Apparently when he was on the mountain, germany declared war on england. He does manage to escape, with the help of a few other of the climbers, to Tibet, finally getting there with only one other, played by David Thewlis, an excellent actor. The two of them spend the titular seven years in Lhasa, the storied capital of Tibet, ancient as the hills, and forbidden to foreigners.Here is where the detailed shadings of Pitt's character are revealed, both through his amazing ability to both comprehend and display the nuances of his character and every half-smile and subtle gesture that bring his character to life. Through his interactions with the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, we see Harrer change, slowly, from egotistical and uninterested to close confidant and caring teacher/father/friend. I'm not a Brad Pitt fan, but have you to give credit where credit is due.The story is based on the true experiences of Heinrich Harrer and the Dalai Lama (who is an amazing speaker, if ever he wanders your way, definately check it out, he has this way of simplifying any problem to a matter of love and understanding no christian ever could). The story is poignant, as we see the impending war with China, the pathetic and futile attempts of the TIbetans to raise a military, and the inevitable conquest. They're still under communist rule, and sometimes you'll see hippies or Rage Against the Machine (RIP) fans with "Free Tibet" bumper stickers on their cars, and this is what they're referring to. Anyway, the story itself is touching and well-scripted. There are a few quibble-able points, though. First, you are told in no uncertain terms how to feel about almost every character and situation. That's pretty much true. Oh, well. Next point. Some would say it's too "hollywood". I would disagree, however, because the only signs of a hollywood influence are the budget and the talent. Both lended themselves perfectly to their parts (Worth mentioning: the scenery, something only attainable with that crazy hollywood budget, is breathtaking. Money well-spent. Absolutely gorgeous, each location in perfect tune with both the story and the seasons).That's pretty much it. Great story held up by great acting (check out that kid who played the Dalai Lama; he blew me away!) and made to feel lush and alive with astonishing locations. Worth renting if you're not sure you'll dig it, worth buying if you know you do."