My Review of "Seven Years in Tibet"
A story about how someone's perspective can change from immersing themselves in another culture.
Seven Years in Tibet is one of the last movies I wanted to check out when it first came out. It came at a time when I was still a teenager so I didn't really have the mental maturity to go through the viewing. It didn't help that I thought it was a white savior movie from the trailer. Fast forward to 2020 and I'm willing to give these movies a try. I was pleasantly surprised with A River Runs Through It, so why not check this one out too.
This movie starts out in the late 1930s. The main character Heinrich is this famous Austrian athlete that is determined to scale the mountains of Tibet. No one has ever done it and he wants to bring pride to the country for scaling this infamous mountain.
Little do we know he's actually also running away from a situation back at home. He had impregnated his wife but had a fight with her that he didn't want the baby. As immature and irrational as he is, he leaves his wife to go mountain climbing.
Scaling the mountain is treacherous and we quickly find out that Heinrich is also a hotheaded egomaniac. He doesn't get along well with others and quickly makes enemies.
Soon as you know it World War II erupts and their plans to scale any mountains is thwarted as Heinrich and his fellow climbers have been captured as war criminals. They've been placed in a prison within India.
After a number of failed attempts to escape the prison his fellow climber Peter has hatched an ingenious plan to get out. After escaping the prison Heinrich and Peter find themselves trapped. They can't go anywhere as the war has soldiers everywhere.
There is one place that might be safe for them to go to Tibet. The problem with this is that Tibet doesn't allow foreigners into their territory. They are a very religious and superstitious people. Heinrich and Peter aren't familiar with many of the customs. It's especially bad since Heinrich is a hotheaded arrogant jerk.
Eventually they weasel themselves into Lhasa, a religious Mecca for Tibetans. This is where the Dalai Lama lives. They are extremely fortunate as they also found a very kind citizen that was willing to house them.
The movie moves on from there where we see how the Dalai Lama and Heinrich learn from each other and develop an unexpected friendship. The Dalai Lama is a very curious individual and has tons of questions about the outside world. In turn he teaches Heinrich the ways of the Tibetan people.
The relationship works pretty well. I thought that the pacing of this movie was remarkably good. There's a long period of Heinrich trying to understand and discover what is conflicted within himself. You can see how he has become a very different person as he matures in Lhasa.
I did find that Brad Pitt's accent throughout the movie wasn't really consistent. I guess they can say that it kind of got lost as he stayed in Lhasa for so long. I've met people that have been in a country for a long time and their accents don't go away that fast.
I also had a bit of an issue wit the ending of the movie. The ending was a little forced. He has had such a bad relationship with his ex-wife and his son that I'm not sure that the ending that happened actually happened despite the fact that this movie is based on a true story. Who knows maybe it did but I'm sure there's a lot of story that was skipped to get to that moment.
After seeing this movie I started to realize that Brad Pitt picks out his roles pretty carefully. I'm sure he has a really good agent or he thoroughly reads the material before getting himself involved with a project. In all of his movies it seems like there is a very interesting aspect to the character he plays. They are usually complicated characters that change over time. I'm glad he chose this movie because I think it suited him well.
I was a little at odds with the way they perceived one of the characters. I thought that they made him seem very binary in terms of good and bad. He makes a moral decision close to the end of the movie that I thought wouldn't be so easy to make given the situation that the Tibetans were in. He's treated as a criminal but it certainly wasn't an easy decision for him to make.
Overall, I thought this was a very enjoyable film. I'm actually shocked at how much I enjoyed the movie. Over the years you become a different type of moviegoer much like how Heinrich changed over time in Tibet. Character nuances have a bigger impact on me than fancy special effects I guess. I have to give this movie a 7 out of 10. It is good enough to recommend to others but I don't think I'd go for a second viewing.