Rated PG-13 - Running time: 2:09 - Released 10/10/97
Author's Note: This is one of the ten movie reviews I wrote for the October 30, 1997 issue of The Republican, the first week my reviews were ever published there. Because of space and time requirements, these ten reviews had to be especially brief, some even shorter than this Author's Note. Someday I will re-view them and re-review them so as to provide a more in-depth commentary, but for now you'll just have to live with the short version. Sorry. --JRM

A sweeping epic based on the true story of Austrian mountain climber Heinrich Harrer (Brad Pitt), who is taken prisoner when World War II breaks out as he is on an expedition on British (Indian) soil. He escapes and flees to Tibet, where he remains beyond the end of the war, becoming a friend to the young Dalai Lama (Jamyang Wangchuk). This is a beautiful film, ripe with spectacular landscapes and complemented by a majestic musical score by John Williams. Other musical elements which add to the atmosphere are the deep bass tones of the large Tibetan horns, and the reccuring notes of Debussy's Claire de Lune, solemnly rendered on a music box owned by the young religious leader. This theme excellently evokes the boy's loneliness in his isolation. Pitt is really not bad despite his "pretty boy" image and his uncanny resemblance to a young Robert Redford, king of the pretty boys. Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, it is not an edge-of-your-seat drama, because it is a true story. But it is a well-detailed look into the political struggle occurring during that period in China, a bit of history that is often glossed over in the U.S. because of our involvement in WWII. Excellently researched, excellently directed, excellently acted. ****½
Copyright 1997 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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