Thursday, January 3, 2019

Review of "Seven Years in Tibet," DVD version

Review of
Seven Years in Tibet, DVD version

Five out of five stars
 This is a great movie and is based on the life of Heinrich Harrar, an Austrian mountaineer that started out as member of the Nazi Party, yet whose life took a dramatic turn as a consequence of a failed expedition and the outbreak of the Second World War. Of all things, he became a close personal friend and teacher of the 14th Tibetan Dalai Lama.
 In Northern India scouting routes for climbing when the Second World War broke out, Harrar and the rest of the expedition, all now considered enemy aliens, were interned by the British in a prisoner camp in India. They escaped and while some of the others were re-captured, Harrar and Peter Aufschnaiter were able to cross the Himalayas into Tibet and eventually were able to enter the capital of Lhasa.
Harrar’s life in Tibet and his relationship with the Dalai Lama are a fascinating example of how friendship can develop between two people from extremely different cultural backgrounds and ages. Great care was done by the producers to present the Tibetan culture of the 1940’s and ‘50s as accurately as possible. A film crew was secretly dispatched to Lhasa and approximately twenty minutes of the film consists of such footage. No viewer can fail to be impressed by the images of the Potala, considering it was built in the seventeenth century.
 While there are some lapses in historical accuracy, the film stays pretty close to the events that happened. The brutality of the Chinese as they set out to systematically destroy Tibetan culture is presented in a plausible manner. The soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army were battle hardened, well-armed from the stores of Chiang Kai-Shek and were nearly a million strong while the Tibetan Army numbered in the low thousands and had antiquated weaponry.
 As a consequence of the major political events of the Second World War and the Chinese takeover of Tibet that are an essential part of the plot, the story can be difficult for viewers that don’t know the history to understand. Yet, it is really about relationships, specifically a boy-king and a European man where each teaches the other a great deal. It is plausible to believe that the success of the Dalai Lama after leaving Tibet is a direct consequence of his boyhood relationship with Harrar.

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