7.0/10
24,530
125 user 70 critic

Kundun (1997)

From childhood to adulthood, Tibet's fourteenth Dalai Lama deals with Chinese oppression and other problems.

Director:

Martin Scorsese
Reviews
Popularity
3,411 ( 325)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tenzin Thuthob Tsarong ... Dalai Lama (Adult)
Gyurme Tethong ... Dalai Lama (Age 12)
Tulku Jamyang Kunga Tenzin ... Dalai Lama (Age 5)
Tenzin Yeshi Paichang Tenzin Yeshi Paichang ... Dalai Lama (Aged 2)
Tencho Gyalpo Tencho Gyalpo ... Mother
Tenzin Topjar Tenzin Topjar ... Lobsang (5-10)
Tsewang Migyur Khangsar Tsewang Migyur Khangsar ... Father
Tenzin Lodoe Tenzin Lodoe ... Takster
Geshi Yeshi Gyatso Geshi Yeshi Gyatso ... Lama of Sera
Losang Gyatso Losang Gyatso ... The Messenger (as Lobsang Gyatso)
Sonam Phuntsok Sonam Phuntsok ... Reting Rinpoche
Gyatso Lukhang Gyatso Lukhang ... Lord Chamberlain
Lobsang Samten Lobsang Samten ... Master of the Kitchen
Jigme Tsarong Jigme Tsarong ... Taktra Rimpoche (as Tsewang Jigme Tsarong)
Tenzin Trinley Tenzin Trinley ... Ling Rimpoche
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Storyline

The Tibetans refer to the Dalai Lama as 'Kundun', which means 'The Presence'. He was forced to escape from his native home, Tibet, when communist China invaded and enforced an oppressive regime upon the peaceful nation of Tibet. The Dalai Lama escaped to India in 1959 and has been living in exile in Dharamsala ever since. Written by Deki

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The destiny of a people lies in the heart of a boy. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violent images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Monaco | Morocco

Language:

English | Tibetan | Mandarin

Release Date:

16 January 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Кундун See more »

Filming Locations:

Ait Benhaddou, Morocco See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$28,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$72,095, 28 December 1997

Gross USA:

$5,684,789

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,684,789
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Kundun is the second movie actor Kim Chan made with Martin Scorsese. The first movie is The King of Comedy. See more »

Goofs

In the movie, when Kundun is disguised as a soldier escaping Tibet in 1959, His Holiness walks through a Tibetan crowd that is singing the song, "Tse-mey Yonten" (Tibetan name) also known as "Words of Truth". However, in actuality, this song wasn't composed until mid 1960, a year after Kundun had escaped to India in exile. See more »

Quotes

[hearing the Chinese propaganda loudspeakers blaring outside]
Dalai Lama: They have taken away our silence.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Touchstone Pictures logo shown after the end credits is red. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Melissa Mathison: A Tribute (2016) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Quite simply a great achievement
11 June 2000 | by RovinSee all my reviews

I was very pleased to discover that this film wasnt the Scorcese dud some of the user comments and critics had suggested it to be. While I am no expert on Buddhism, I know enough about it to see how brilliantly Martin Scorcese and Melissa Mathison weaved the core philosophy into this tale of the Dalai Lama's formative years. They did it without succumbing to ostentation, sentimentality, or populist good vs evil film dramatics. And yet it showed us how human the child was--laughing as the monks meditated while a rat drank the ritual offerings; being frightened in the dark monastery; taking on the very great responsibility of leading a truly wise, noble and compassionate religion while being confronted by the threats of the modern world. I appreciated how they didnt portray the Chinese as simple villians--by including the scene where he dreams the army personnel are explaining to him why they embrace Mao's communism. And they also presented enough of the Buddhist ritual and way of life to show us how alien it is to western religions(the scene where they cut up the body for the vultures comes to mind), though they dont gloss it over by excluding comments about the Lama's isolation and loss of childhood or the corruption surrounding his first Regent. It was also quite moving to observe the devotion of his monks and people.

Scorcese really demonstrates here that he is a true film artist and master storyteller. I wholeheartedly concur with the commentator that compared this film to the Last Emperor--despite similar story frames and lengths, this motion picture doesnt drag at all. If this had been say, Steven Spielberg's project you would have expected to see some manipulative melodramatics and insincerity. And how can one not be impressed by the performances he got out of mostly non actors! That alone was amazing. The film maintained its pace from the early years to the Lama as an adult. From what little of the man I have seen on tv, his humor, and wisdom was conveyed remarkably well by Mathison's script and the actors chosen for the role.

Finally, his comment to the Indian guard near the end after being asked if he was the Lord Buddha--encapsulates the wisdom and the humility of its spiritual leader perfectly.


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