Inspired by a true life story, Seven Years in Tibet is a wonderful film which can be classified as adventure, drama, biography, war film in terms of genre. The story focuses on two heroes; Heinrick Harren (Brad Bitt), an Australian mountain climber and Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader, the god of Tibetans. The diverse subjects it includes may divert attention to different points; however, the main concept of the movie rather seems the juxtaposition of east and west and what happens to a westerner when he purifies himself through the path which goes all along till it reaches Lhasa, the holy land of Buddhism like the outcome of the encounter of these two different world view.
Heinrick starts his voyage as to achieve his dream about climbing the peak of a mountain. While he is so determined about his goal, he fulfills the role of the hero in Drama by saving one of his collogues with a hurt leg. He does not seem content with the life he is exposed as he exemplifies somebody to be pitied on with his loneliness in a crowd. When they are captured by English soldiers around Indian Territory, he is retired from his role as the hero for a certain time in which he collects all sorrow which he is able to like the confinement, the loneliness and the letter of divorce from his wife. After long tries, they could escape from the place and the only land they can head towards is Tibet due to the war which is getting more serious through the time. Even if Henrick does not like the man, Peter Aufschnaiter, ( David Thewlis) he has protected from falling from the mountain, they are all together during the holy trip. Experiencing different handicaps like the native people trying to confine them or the Tibetans who do not want to accept them as they are foreigners turns these two people into two westerners who start to understand the eastern mind. In Tibet, the test of Heinrick is carried on, his heroism gets back with the cold face of loneliness he feels when the tailor also chooses Peter. Here, I associate the situation of the hero with the prophethood. When God chooses the caliph, he first takes all of his protectors, friends and beloveds. If the person keeps going on holding to his patience then God lets the purity of the revelation sit in his heart. The only person who shares the “yellow headed” character’s loneliness as he is called such by Dalai Lama is the God of the Tibetans, Dalai Lama, himself.
The other vantage is from the easterner with the omnipotent symbolization of Dalai Lama when he looks through the telescope to the people especially the counter hero of the “other”, Heinrick. Through the exile of Heinrick, there appear some scenes in which we encounter the physical maturation of the Lama at that side. Peter can also be another tiny hero in his own limits because the horizon he builds for his goals largely differs from Heinrick and he achieves all his goals of his tiny heroic circle which includes the marriage to the tailor. While Peter is taking the girl, Heinrick is able to be the close friend for Dalai Lama like a replacement of his own son whom he could never meet due to being stuck in Far East. Dalai Lama tries to get the insight of the hero with passionate questions and even asks him to build a cinema. During that process, there are some specific events like workers all trying to gather worms from the soil and placing them at safe places as they can be spirits of their father or grandmother in accordance with their belief system. At that point, Lama says “We never hurt anything alive” which pinpoints their world view far away to the understanding of a westerner. And also the tailor helps us see the differences between these two cultures like she talks about a man who is appreciated because he leaves his ego beyond whereas the westerners try to reach the peak within a huge proud. And the place nature holds also differs in both like it is something to be fought against for western people on the other hand, it is something to be respected for the easterners.
The theory of Buddhism called Yin Yang is also to be mentioned here as to clarify the role of the unexpected deceit a minister or a secretary in the ministry commits. Initially, it is no more than an attack from the inside; however, in the philosophy of Yin Yang there is always light in the dark and vice versa. Therefore, there is always a possibility to face glory or a deceit throughout the life at any time like Heinrick once left his wife in Germany reckoning that his friend would take care of her. The outcome of friendship does not always mean that there exists sincerity; therefore the friend he left with his wife turns out to be the father of his child in the end. The harmony in eastern world also helps these people to be calm enough to accept all black points in the Yin Yang including the acceptance of the power of nature, which Heinrick also learned at the end of the story.
The way Brad Bitt acts, the way he is clothed and the way he put on his make-up have a fascinating effect on the movie. The physical change and how it really matches with his child-like handsome face eases the audience to believe the purification of the hero. With the failures and the hopeless facial gestures afterwards, Bitt enables a lively atmosphere like experiencing a real change in him with the clue of deepening eyes, strengthened patience and other features of him. The movie is really worth watching even if there left some black points in my mind like how Heinrick could be able to get that much closer to Dalai Lama…