Synopsis by Karl Williams
Typically impressive natural vistas from director Jean-Jacques Annaud (some secretly filmed on location in Tibet) highlight this adaptation of the memoir by Heinrich Harrer. Brad Pitt stars as the arrogant Heinrich, a famed Austrian mountain climber who leaves behind his wife and infant son to head a Himalayan expedition in 1939, only to fall into the hands of Allied forces as a prisoner of war. He and a fellow escapee, Peter Aufschnaiter (David Thewlis), make their way to the Forbidden City in Tibet, where Peter finds a wife and Heinrich befriends the Western culture-obsessed teenage Dalai Lama (Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk), the spiritual leader of his Buddhist nation. As Heinrich waits out the war, his friendship with the Dalai Lama begins to transform him from haughty to humble, but a crisis with China looms. A controversy over the revelation of the real-life Harrer's Nazi Party affiliation brewed during the film's production, forcing Annaud to briefly deal with the subject in the film.
Austrian [nationality], Buddhism, Dalai Lama, Himalayas, mountain-climbing, POW (Prisoner of War), Tibet, China
High Budget, High Production Values