Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
USA/United Kingdom, 1997. Mandalay Entertainment, Reperage & Vanguard Films, Applecross. Screenplay by Becky Johnston, based on the book by Heinrich Harrer. Cinematography by Robert Fraisse. Produced by Jean-Jacques Annaud, Iain Smith, John H. Williams. Music by John Williams. Production Design by Hoang Thanh At. Costume Design by Enrico Sabbatini. Film Editing by Noelle Boisson. Golden Globe Awards 1997. Toronto International Film Festival 1997.
You’ll feel like you’ve been seven years in Tibet by the time you’re halfway through this execrable film. Brad Pitt plays the real-life Heinrich Harrer, a model Nazi who leads an Aryan exhibition into the Himalayas to prove the might and power of the Third Reich. His bad attitude (and probably his really bad accent) separate him from his fellow travelers and he ends up wandering the far East alone, then later is accompanied by his annoyed colleague David Thewlis and together they sneak into the holy city inhabited by the Dalai Lama. The friendship that Pitt strikes up with the revered spiritual leader changes his perspective on everything, but Jean-Jacques Annaud spends over an hour leading up to this relationship and never gets around to making it worth the wait. John Williams contributes a haunting musical score, and the photography is beautiful, but everything here is done far better in Martin Scorsese’s Kundun except without the movie star. The most enjoyable aspect of this film is listening to Pitt get angry and shout “shadAAAAP” to silence Thewlis, sounding much more like Inspector Clouseau than anyone named Harrer. Based on a true story, though it’s not likely that you’ll care.