A remarkable film produced under remarkable conditions, Windhorse dares to present a realistic and scathingly critical depiction of Chinese oppression in Tibet. It's obvious from the opening credits that director Paul Wagn... more »er (Oscar®-winning producer of the 1984 documentary short The Stone Carvers) has a message to deliver about the plight of Tibet, and his clunky filmmaking serves a formulaic, melodramatic story. Set in 1998, it's a simple tale, accessible to a wide audience, in which a young Tibetan singer named Dolkar (Dadon) is a rising star on the Chinese-owned nightclub circuit, growing too comfortable with her own integration into Chinese society in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. Her grandfather had been killed by the Chinese in 1959 for protesting against Chinese occupation, and now, 18 years later, her brother Dorjee (Jampa Kelsang) is aimless and unemployed, hating the Chinese and powerless to do anything about it. Their cousin Pema (played by an actress who must remain unidentified) is a Tibetan nun who is imprisoned and severely beaten for her outspoken protest against China and defiant embrace of the Dalai Lama as her religious leader. She is released to her family, weakened and on the verge of death, and her testimony about Chinese brutality is videotaped by a sympathetic American tourist (Teije Silverman). In depicting this dangerous activity, Windhorse becomes a vehicle for global awareness of Tibet's ongoing oppression. This personal history and family turmoil provides an intimate perspective on the Tibetan cause, and much of the film was shot illegally in Tibet with digital home-video cameras, under the noses of the Chinese police. Many of the Tibetan actors and crewmembers remain unnamed in the credits to protect their identities, and this clandestine production strategy gives Windhorse a sense of urgent authenticity, also resulting in a variety of interesting anecdotes in Wagner's audio commentary, recorded with cowriter/coproducer Julia Elliot and exiled Tibetan cowriter Thupten Tsering. The result is more of a human-rights treatise than a truly satisfying movie, but Windhorse retains enough dramatic impact to provide a powerful and still controversial look at a political crisis that remains stubbornly unsolved. --Jeff Shannon« less
One of the Few Movies with Realities of Brutality in China
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Truly one of the most shocking but remarkable and authentic films I have ever seen in my whole life. As I watched "Windhorse," I could easily feel how the Tibetans, along with other minorities in China, such as Uygurs, were brutally maltreated by the Chinese Communists who determined to forcefully assimilate the Tibetans and other non-Chinese people into the Chinese mainstream society, which cause resentment and sometimes rage from these minorities.This film began in a small, peaceful village in western Tibet in three years after the Cultural Revolution ended where Dorjee, Dolkar and Pema as the children lived and played happily in carefree matter. One afternoon, two police officers went into this village while the three children played cheerfully. Both then went into the children's home and shot the children's grandfather who displayed a poster in protest against the ruthless Chinese Communists and telling the Chinese to leave Tibet. This incident struck into the hearts of the three children forever. Eighteen years later after the death of their grandfather, all three of them were grown up and took the different paths. Dolkar, a lovely and gorgeous Tibetan woman who was fluent in both Chinese and Tibetan and had a Chinese boyfriend Duan-Ping from Chengdu, was a famous singer in the nightclub in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. She successfully signed a contract with the Chinese manager that would make her a national pop singer in China. She vowed that she would heed the "law and order" from the manager and the Communist Party so she could get huge salaries to support her family. Her older brother Dorjee, who also lived in Lhasa with her family, was a drunkard who was unemployed because he resented the Chinese people and had very little knowledge of Chinese language. Pema, the cousin of Dolkar and Dorjee, was in a monastery in western Tibet as one of the nuns. One day, the Chinese Communist government had issued a strict order to all parts of China, including Tibet, that would banned the portrait of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in any institution to strengthen the Chinese control of Tibet, to determined to further "unite the thought of each individual" and to promote the "love of the motherland (China)." Later one of the nuns was arrested for the violation of this law and refusal to renounce the Dalai Lama. Angry of the Chinese, Pema and her friend shouted for Tibetan independence in the middle of the crowded market in Lhasa and were arrested by the plainclothesmen. Brutally tortured by the merciless and inclement police, Pema fell unconscious until she was picked up by Dorjee and his father after his father signed the confession paper. Meanwhile, an American tourist named Amy met Dorjee and later became friends prior to Pema's arrest. He asked his friend Lobsang, who was responsible for secretly sending the information of people arrested simply for freedom expression to India, and Amy for help. Dolkar, who was once loyal to the Chinese, was again haunted by the murder of her grandfather and decided to joined with Dorjee and his helpers to smuggle the sensitive information on Pema's arrest and brutality. They all risked their lives to do so to get the world's attention before the police were catching them.It specifically depicts the brutally and maltreatment at the Tibetans from the hard-hearted Chinese Communists who considered the Tibetan as inferior in race and ethnicity, especially the prison, which gives us the impression that the Chinese Communists was treating the Tibetan prisoners and suspects in a very inhumane way. Jack Wagner did a marvelous job in filming this not only in Nepal but also in Tibet, where it is now part of China and the Communists do not permit anyone filming that would offend the Communists. It was a highly risky job; at least, however, he and the other crew members did create this film with the cooperation from the Tibetans who want to be safe and/or continue the political activities in Tibet and other asylum nations. Unfortunately, in present time, the Chinese Communist government prohibits this film because the Communists think it would hurt a nation's feeling and promote the secession of Tibet from the motherland (China). It will not be allowed to be viewed by 1.2 billion citizens of People's Republic of China until the Communists loses the power to hold China and becomes a truly democratic republic of the civilians, by the civilians and for the civilians. (This reminds me of Sun Yat-Sen's Three Principles of the People: nationalism, democracy and social well-being.)I really wish there are more films about the brutality in China on other minorities, such as Uygurs. I would also like to look forward to see the film about the Baren County uprising by the righteous Uygurs who had the determination to gain independence for Uyghuristan (or East Turkistan) but ended in a victory for the Chinese Communists. (If you know the name of the movie that matches my descriptions regarding the Uygurs, please inform me by posting your suggestion in the review of "Windhorse" so I can read it, since I concealed my identity to protect myself from danger.)Anyway, I will recommend this film to anyone who appreciates humanities and human rights around the world. Go watch "Windhorse" as soon as possible even if you are sick or tired."
Heart breakingly accurate
A. Rubin | 03/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Windhorse is a starkly accurate portrayal of life in occupied Tibet. The story, seen through the eyes of a young western backpacker, ends in the death of a Tibetan nun who has been released from the Chinese prison so that she will not die in prison from the torture. Shot illegally in Tibet, the names of much of the cast and crew is not revealed to protect the people and their families."
If you want to understand China, Ask a Tibetan
Joe Mickey | 09/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The government of China is America's latest trading partner. The most recent allegation is that Chinese police have resorted to torturing Tibetan Children in their obsession for control. This movie presents a vision that matches histories such as those told in the books "Tears of Blood/A Cry For Tibet" by Mary Craig and "In Exile From the Land Of Snows" by John Avedon. If you want to Understand the true Nature of the Government of China before you do business or purchase the "Made In China Label" ask a Tibetan. The latest news on Tibet can be found at ......"
A Brutal Truth
A. Rubin | upstate, NY United States | 05/30/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie, created by Tibetans in exile, accurately portrayes the modern Tibet. This picks up 40 years after 7 Years in Tibet and Kundun leave off. This story, based on true events in Tibet tells the tales of three children, Dorjee, Pema and Dolkar, who grow apart after witnessing the murder of their grandfather. Dorjee becomes a bum, Dolkar a Chinese pop singer, and Pema a nun.Dolkar enjoys her life as a singer with her Chinese boyfriend and often sings pro-chinese anthems for the money it brings her (much to Dorjee's obvious dismay.) When she is offered a chance at a televised concert shown all over China, she is thrilled, however when her cousin Pema is released into her care after suffering Chinese brutality in prison, she must re-think all of her ideals.Dorjee befriends a young american tourist named Amy, who has learnt Tibetan in school. After initially teasing her, he shows her the REAL Lhasa, and enlists her help in recording and smuggling out information about the abuse Pema has suffered.Pema is haunted by the memories of her grandfather's murder and while walking in Lhasa one day, starts to protest the Chinese occupation, whereupon she is sent into political prison. There she must use all of her will power and faith to keep her and her roommate from the convent alive.The story keeps you on the edge of your seat, tugs at your heartstrings, and will leave you shocked, if not in tears."
Blown By The Wings of the Windhorse ~ It's All About The M
Brian E. Erland | Brea, CA - USA | 05/29/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Note: Chinese, Tibetan with some English narration and English subtitles.
Paul Wagner's 'Windhorse' has the feel and look of a television docu-drama. If I just happened to be channel surfing and came upon this film in progress I would probably assume it to be a new Asian soap opera on cable.
However having said that it must be understood by any potential viewer that this is a film where the message is first and foremost. Secretly filmed on location in Tibet at great risk, the intent of this movie is to enlighten the world to the ongoing oppression of the Tibetan people by the occupying Chinese miltary. For that reason alone it's worth a viewing.
Positives: It contains some magnificent panoramic views of the Tibetan landscape and exotic rural and urban settings. There's also some fine camera work in monasteries displaying the ornate colors and imagery the Tibetans are known for.
-3 Stars as docu-drama/soap opera - 5 Stars for the message - 4 Stars overall"