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Seven Years in Tibet Movie Essay

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Updated: Jul 19th, 2018

Seven Years in Tibet is a 1997 movie based on a true story of an Austria mountain climber, Heinrich Harrer. The director of the movie is Jean-Jacques Annaud while Becky Johnston is the screenplay writer. The three main actors are Brad Pitt, B.D. Wong and David Thewlis.

The movie tells the true story of Heinrich Harrier, who with his great passion and courage, journeys for several years from Austria to the city of Lhasa in Tibet to meet Dalai Lama, a spiritual leader of Tibet. Heinrich Harrer leaves his pregnant wife, Ingrid and sets out for an expedition quite reluctantly since, he resents leaving his wife and being under commands of Peter Aufschnaiter, who is the leader of the expedition.

The journey begins in 1939 at the start of the Second World War when Heinrich Harrier and Peter Aufschnaiter together with other members of the expedition group, board a train headed for India on their way to Tibet. The expedition group starts its journey by climbing mount Nanga Parbat. During the mountain climbing, Heinrich Harrier injures his leg and even though he hides it from the expedition group, he attributes it to the failure of the expedition leader Peter Aufschnaiter to rescue him.

After climbing down from mount Nanga Parbat, Heinrich Harrier meets a Tibetan explorer who hands him Dalai photograph to be a sign of protection on his journey to Tibet. Unfortunately, British soldiers arrest and imprison the expedition group at the Dehra Dun camp. Heinrich Harrer informs his wife in Austria by writing about his arrest but she furiously replies that she is divorcing him and remarries since their son Rolf is two years old.

After making several vain attempts to escape from the Dehra Dun camp, Peter Aufschnaiter devises a way out by stealing British soldiers’ uniforms and distributing them to other captives so that they can sneak out of the camp. Their escape divides them as everyone runs for safety in different ways with Heinrich Harrer leading his group into northern India where he experiences great hunger and steals food from a church, which makes them sick.

When they recover, they embark on their journey towards Tibet, but crossing the border pose great challenge to them since Tibet strictly denies immigration and Tibetan soldiers watchfully patrol the border. Peter Aufschnaiter tries to convince the soldiers that he can speak Tibetan language while Heinrich Harrer attempts to bribe a soldier using Dalai Lama’s photo but they do not succeed.

Failing to cross the border, Heinrich Harrer and Peter Aufschnaiter devise a way of sneaking into Tibet despite tight surveillance of the border by the Tibetan soldiers and impending war between Tibet and China. They trick a soldier to wear heavy boots so that they can sneak through the border because the soldier is unable to run after them. They begin their hard journey to Lhasa in the company of pilgrims who cover them from being recognized by the Tibetan soldiers.

On arrival to Lhasa, Ngawang Jigme welcomes them and orders Pema Lhaki, a tailor, to make new clothes to Heinrich Harrer and Peter Aufschnaiter. Spending years on their journey without seeing any women, Pema Lhaki attracts their attention but Peter Aufschnaiter finally wins her. Dalai Lama in his Potala palace learns that foreigners are in the city of Lhasa and he welcomes Heinrich Harrer into his palace. After praying together, Dalai Lama gives him a music box and he returns to Austria to meet his family happily.

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"Seven Years in Tibet Movie." IvyPanda, 19 July 2018, ivypanda.com/essays/seven-years-in-tibet-movie/.

1. IvyPanda. "Seven Years in Tibet Movie." July 19, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/seven-years-in-tibet-movie/.


IvyPanda. "Seven Years in Tibet Movie." July 19, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/seven-years-in-tibet-movie/.


IvyPanda. 2018. "Seven Years in Tibet Movie." July 19, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/seven-years-in-tibet-movie/.


IvyPanda. (2018) 'Seven Years in Tibet Movie'. 19 July.

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