I hate to admit it, but I’m a sucker for films about� well� white men having adventures in faraway lands. That, of course, includes films like the Indiana Jones series, but also movies like Mountains of the Moon and The Ghost and the Darkness. It’s not that I so much like to see white guys prancing around in foreign lands, but I think it just turns out that way because they, as “the outsider,” end up being the character I most Identify with.
This particular film focuses on the life of white guy Heinrich Harrer (Brad Pitt), an Austrian climber and a Nazi sympathizer. He leaves Austria in 1939 with a team to climb the highest peak in the in the Himalayas, leaving his wife and unborn son behind. Their climb is not entirely successful, and they are arrested and placed in a POW camp, since Britain (and by extension, British India) has entered the war with Germany. Eventually, through a series of events, Heinrich and fellow climber Peter Aufschnaiter become the only two foreigners in the Tibetan Holy City of Lhasa.
Once there, Heinrich and Peter start integrating into the peaceful Buddhist society. Beginning with the young Dalai Lama’s request for Heinrich to build him a movie theatre, Heinrich also starts to become his close confidant. Heinrich becomes haunted by his past, regretful of his support of the Nazi party, and of leaving his family. He hopes for redemption through reconciliation with his son, whom he has never met, but whom occupies his mind.
Brad Pitt and David Thewlis (Peter) are both excellent throughout, and the cinematography is breathtaking. I’m not quite sure how accurate the depiction of the historical events is, but it certainly made me interested to learn more about the whole Tibet situation, and its occupation by China.
:: 1997 :: dir. Jean-Jacques Annaud ::
DVD features include pretty menus and buttons.