Seven Years in Tibet

Bomb Rating: 

The Dalai Lama may be a walking embodiment of holiness, but it doesn't mean a damn thing if he can't take his shirt off and dampen the panties of every female in North America. Thus, Brad Pitt, as a professional panty-dampener, takes center stage despite the fact that director Jean-Jacques ("Quest for Fire") Annaud had obviously hoped to make a film about Da Lama (pronounced like "da Bears" or "da Bulls").

What Annaud apparently learned the hard way is that there are really only two ways to convince Hollywood to finance a film about a religious figure. The preferred tactic, of course, is to be Martin Scorcese. Lacking that, a director's only other recourse is to throw in a vacuous hunk so that audiences will have a false idol to drool over while the spiritual themes sail right over their heads.

Pitt plays real-life Austrian mountain climber and Lama friend, Heinrich Harrer who, in 1939, went off to climb Nanga Parbat in the Himalayas with his countryman, Peter Aufschnaiter (David Thewlis). The point of the movie is that Harrer is an asshole before he goes to Tibet and meets Da Lama, and afterwards he's not quite so much of an asshole. Pitt's portrayal of this dramatic transition is even less convincing than his accent.

Our Nazi heroes Harrer and Aufschnaiter get captured in India by the British and put in a prison camp. They escape and end up wandering around India and Tibet until they finally end up in Lhasa. Aufschnaiter meets a cool Tibetan woman and marries her, while Harrer becomes "buds" with Da Lama and teaches him where Paris is and what's a Slurpee and stuff like that.

It seems to take Annaud about seven years of film time to get Harrer to Tibet so he can point out what cool people the Tibetans are and what a neat, interesting guy Da Lama is. Unfortunately, by that time, most of the audience had converted to Scientology out of sheer boredom and could have cared less.

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