|SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET (1997)|
|"We have a saying in Tibet: If a problem can be solved there is no use worrying about it. If it can't be solved, worrying will do no good."|
|Time: 131 mins.|
I have to admit I'm not a huge Brad Pitt fan, but I don't dislike him either. I think he can be an extraordinary actor when he's not playing the "look how cute and sexy I am" roles. So since he was basically playing one of those roles a good-looking Austrian explorer I had my doubts about this film before my butt even touched the seat. However, it's not Brad's portrayal that I have a problem with. It was the essence of the character itself, which he had nothing to do with since it was based on a real person. If this was how Heinrich Harrer really was in his life, I can only wonder how he had any friends at all, never mind the Dalai Lama. He is so arrogant and full of himself, that you can't like him. I even found myself wishing he would fail.
Now granted the character does soften a bit because of the time he spends in Tibet and with the Dalai Lama, but by the time that happens the film is over three-quarters over and you don't care about his conversion which isn't that spectacular to begin with. This is truly a fascinating story, it's just unfortunate it comes from the point of view of a self-centered bastard. The setting is truly magical, giving a real feel for what the holy city must be like and how the Tibetans really live. I can't imagine living somewhere so cut off from the rest of the world. Before the invasion of the Chinese the Tibetans must have felt like they lived on a whole different planet altogether. Unfortunately for them, they didn't. The scenes of the Chinese takeover are horrible to watch when you know that the Tibetans are a peaceful people who had no real chance of fighting back.
As far as the controversy surrounding Harrer being a Nazi is concerned, I think the stink is just a load of crap. Granted he hid his involvement in the Nazi Party, but he only joined so he could go on the expedition to climb the highest mountain in the world. This man was obsessed with climbing and thought he was the best in the world. He sold his soul to the devil to get the chance of his lifetime, but he did not take part in what the Nazis did to the world. He wasn't even in the country. He had nothing to do with it. Now we'll never know what he would have done had he not been in Tibet, but that's a moot point. Why punish this man for an error in judgement that took place over 50 years ago and which had no consequences for anyone but himself? Let it go people.
Overall, SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET is a well-done film with believable performances (Brad actually kept his German/Austrian accent throughout the entire movie) and an amazing story. You'll learn something about a culture most of us have never heard of and will never get a chance to experience first-hand. It's worth it for that reason alone.