Seven Years in Tibet


Character: Heinrich Harrer
Release Date: 8 October 1997
Directed By: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Written By: Heinrich Harrer, Becky Johnston
Genre: Adventure/Biography/Drama
Tagline: At the end of the world his real journey began
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Produced by: Applecross, Mandalay Entertainment, Post Media, Reperage & Vanguard Films, TriStar Pictures
Distributed by: TriStar Pictures
Budget: $70,000,000 (estimated)
Filming Dates: September 1996 – March 1997

Brad Pitt…Heinrich Harrer
David Thewlis…Peter Aufschnaiter
B.D. Wong…Ngawang Jigme
Ingeborga Dapkunaite…Ingrid Harrer
Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk…Dalai Lama, 14 Years Old
Lhakpa Tsamchoe…Pema Lhaki
Jetsun Pema…Great Mother

Filming Locations:
Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada
La plata, Buenos Aires, Federal District, Argentina
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England, UK
Lienz, Tirol, Austria
Mendoza, Argentina
Santiago, Chile
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Heinrich Harrer (Brad Pitt) journeys to the Himalayas to climb mountains, leaving his wife behind in Austria. War breaks out while he’s gone and he is placed in a prisoner-of-war camp. Harrer escapes to Tibet where he befriends the childhood Dalai Lama and witnesses the Tibetan/Chinese confrontation escalate

Trivia & Facts:
Annaud sent a team to Tibet to secretly film footage. About 20 minutes of it made it into the finished film. This was kept secret even after the film’s premiere and not known until summer 1999.

Jetsun Pema is the real life sister of the Dalai Lama. In this film she plays the mother of the Dalai Lama and hence her own mother.

Because of their roles in the movie, David Thewlis and Brad Pitt are banned from ever entering China.

In the scene where Heinrich confronts Ngawang, the director did not tell B.D. Wong the script called for Brad Pitt to throw him into the dirt; Wong’s reaction is completely authentic.

From the gallery

Heinrich Harrer: Ugh! Butter tea, it was never my cup of tea.
[Peter begins to pour another cup]
Heinrich Harrer: No, no, no. One was enough.
Peter Aufschnaiter: [continues pouring] Yes. We must follow the custom. A fresh cup of tea is poured for the loved one departing.
[picks up the tea]
Peter Aufschnaiter: No, no, no, no, no. It sits untouched, waiting for his return.

[On the Himalayas]
Heinrich Harrer: A place rich with all the strange beauty of your nighttime dreams.

Heinrich Harrer: I have nothing to do with your silly war.

Ngawang Jigme: Hello, my friend. We did what was best for our country, for Tibet.
Heinrich Harrer: On the way to Lhasa I would see Tibetans wearing those jackets. ‘Chinese soldiers very nice. Give food, clothes and money. Very nice.’ It’s strange to me that something so harmless as a jacket can symbolize such a great lie.
Ngawang Jigme: After all these years you still don’t understand our Tibetan ways. To return a gift is unforgivable.
Heinrich Harrer: A man who betrays his culture shouldn’t preach about its customs. There was a time I would have wished you dead but your shame will be your torture and your torture will be your life. I wish it to be long.

Heinrich Harrer: In my humble opinion, this is ridiculous.
Peter Aufschnaiter: Well, then, since you’re so humble, we won’t ask your opinion.

Dalai Lama: …You can not ask a devout people to disregard a precious teaching.
Heinrich Harrer: Yes but Your Holiness, with due respect, erm, we can’t possibly
Heinrich Harrer: I’m sorry, but we can’t possibly save all the worms! Not if you want a theater in this lifetime.
Dalai Lama: You have a clever mind. Think of a solution. And in the meantime you can explain to me, what is an elevator.

Heinrich Harrer: It’s strange to me that something so harmless as a jacket could symbolize such a great lie.

Heinrich Harrer: There was a time that I would have wished you dead but your shame shall be your torture and your torture will be your life! I wish it to be long.

Peter Aufschnaiter: You should have told me how bad that wound was. I should take a look at it. I can
sew it up.
Heinrich Harrer: It’s not your problem.
Peter Aufschnaiter: Actually it is my problem. It’s my life.
Heinrich Harrer: What?
Peter Aufschnaiter: When you conceal serious injury and put my life at risk I consider that my
Heinrich Harrer: No, you put your life at risk. I saved it so shut up!
Peter Aufschnaiter: Please, it’s not your place.
Heinrich Harrer: Shut up!
Peter Aufschnaiter: Next time you lie about an injury, Heinrich, you’re off the team.
Heinrich Harrer: Try it.

Peter Aufschnaiter: Oh, by the way, I heard the Japanese have retreated all the way back to Shanghai. So even if you make it to the Chinese border you may have difficulties catching up with them.
Heinrich Harrer: I don’t care if they’ve retreated all the way back to Tokyo.
Peter Aufschnaiter: You should if you want to get back to Austria.
Heinrich Harrer: But I don’t.
Peter Aufschnaiter: You don’t what?
Heinrich Harrer: Plan to go back.
Peter Aufschnaiter: Why not?
Heinrich Harrer: No particular reason. But when you get there tell my wife that two years in prison camp is roughly equal ant to four years of marriage and I’m glad to be free of them both.

Peter Aufschnaiter: Know what time it is? You think I’m so happy to be travelling with you I should pay for it? You’re such a big man that you don’t need to contribute?
Heinrich Harrer: You have a problem, Peter?
Peter Aufschnaiter: It reminds me of what you said at the bazaar back there. ‘If I had a watch like that I would trade it.’ You do not have one, you cheap, lying bastard! You have three!
Heinrich Harrer: This is junk from some Italian prisoners.
Peter Aufschnaiter: I don’t give a shit! Haven’t you ever heard of a principle?
Heinrich Harrer: What principle? What? You want a watch? Go ahead, take one, and keep your principles.
Peter Aufschnaiter: Look at you! Caught being a selfish brat and you’re gloating!
Heinrich Harrer: You’re acting like an old woman, Peter. What do you want?
Peter Aufschnaiter: Try apologizing. Try feeling a little remorse. And for all that’s fair try to wipe that smirk off your face!

Heinrich Harrer: In this place where time stands still it seems like everything is moving. Including me. I can’t say I know where I’m going nor if my bad deeds can be purified. There are so many things I have done that I regret. But when I come to a full stop I hope you understand that the distance between us is not as great as it seems.

Heinrich Harrer: That’s the Olympic gold medal. Not important.
Pema Lhaki: This is another great difference between our civilization and yours. You admire the man who pushes his way to the top in any walk of life, while we admire the man who abandons his ego.

Dalai Lama: Do you listen to news from your country?
Heinrich Harrer: From Austria? No, not really. Give me some light, Kundun.
Dalai Lama: Why? It’s your home.
Heinrich Harrer: Not anymore it isn’t.
Dalai Lama: But don’t you have friends and family there?
Heinrich Harrer: A few friends, no family. Keep the light steady, your Holiness.
Dalai Lama: Why? Is everyone dead?
Heinrich Harrer: Do you know there’s another way a sentence can be constructed than a question? I was
married but I’m divorced.
Dalai Lama: What did you do?
Heinrich Harrer: I didn’t want a child so I ran away to climb a mountain.

Dalai Lama: I can’t sleep. I’m afraid the dream might come back.
Heinrich Harrer: A couple of insomniacs.
Dalai Lama: Tell me a story, Heinrich. Tell me a story about climbing mountains.
Heinrich Harrer: That’s one way to fall asleep. Those stories bore even me.
Dalai Lama: Then tell me what you love about it.
Heinrich Harrer: The absolute simplicity. That’s what I love. When you’re climbing your mind is clear and free from all confusions. You have focus. And suddenly the light becomes sharper, the sounds are richer and you’re filled with the deep, powerful presence of life. I’ve only felt that one other time.
Dalai Lama: When?
Heinrich Harrer: In your presence, Kundun.

Heinrich Harrer: You have to leave. You have to leave Tibet, Kundun. Your life’s at great risk. Forgive my presumption but I have made arrangements to get you out safely. We should leave directly after
the enthronement, the Chinese won’t expect it.
Dalai Lama: How can I help people if I run away from them? What kind of leader would I be? I have to stay here, Heinrich. Serving others is my path to deliberation.
Heinrich Harrer: Then I don’t go either.
Dalai Lama: Why not?
Heinrich Harrer: Because you are my path to deliberation.
Dalai Lama: The Buddha said ‘Salvation doesn’t come from the sight of me. It demands strenuous effort and practise. So work hard and seek your own salvation constantly.’ I am not your son. And I’ve never thought of you as my father. You’ve been much too informal to me for that. Do you ever think about him?
[Heinrich cries, nodding]
Dalai Lama: And what do you think about?
Heinrich Harrer: It’s not a conscious thought really, Kundun. He is always there. When I crossed Tibet he was with me. When I came to Lhasa he was with me. When I sit beside you he is there with me. I can’t even imagine how to picture the world without him in it.

Heinrich Harrer: You’re a seamstress.
Pema Lhaki: I’m a tailor, sir. The only tailor in Lhasa who has been to Calcutta and can reproduce these silly costumes.

External Links
Official website

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Seven Years in Tibet (DVD)
Seven Years in Tibet (Blu-ray)
Seven Years in Tibet (Superbit Collection)
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Seven Years In Tibet (DVD)
Seven Years in Tibet (Book)