The following article is from the Winter, 1997 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.



 At the Movies

1997 - Year of Tibet in the Movies

1997 brought the release of two major films on Tibet: Kundun and Seven Years in Tibet.

Kundun 'the presence of a great incarnation' is a film based on the Dalai Lama's autobiography.

Melissa Mathison Ford, the wife of Harrison Ford, wrote the screenplay for Kundun based on the Dalai Lama's autobiography. She has also written the screenplay for ET and The Black Stallion. Martin Scorsese is the director and Disney's Touchstone Pictures will distribute the film.

The Chinese government seemed to be particularly worried about Kundun and threatened to bar Walt Disney Productions from access to any of its markets if Disney releases the film.

Filming for Kundun was done in Morocco since the Chinese interfered with the possibility of shooting it in the Himalayan region.

The word Kundun means the presence of a great incarnation, and the movie chronicles the life of the 14th Dalai Lama from his selection as the reincarnated lama to his perilous escape to India in the 1950s. The cast of Kundun is all Tibetan and performers were chosen from exiles.

Tsering Lhamo, a Tibetan from Ithaca, New York played the Dalai Lama's sister. She said, it is a movie especially made for Tibetans, so the world will know what happened when the Chinese invaded our country. A crew of Italian designers recreated the Potala and when the Tibetans saw it, they all started to cry.

The Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China was the residence of the Dalai Lama

Columbia TriStar presents Seven Years in Tibet

Jean-Jacques Annaud (The Bear, Name of the Rose) directed Seven Years in Tibet, the story of Heinrich Harrer's great adventure in Tibet. Oscar nominee Brad Pitt played Harrer and David Thewlis played Peter Aufschnaiter. The movie was filmed in Argentina, Chile, and Canada and will be distributed by Columbia TriStar.


Both films were released in the fall of 1997.

Related Books

Coming Home to Tibet

$29.95 - Paperback

By: Tsering Wangmo Dhompa

Born in Lhasa

$19.95 - Paperback

By: Namgyal Lhamo Taklha

Born in Tibet

$23.95 - Paperback

By: Chogyam Trungpa