Heinrich Harrer (Brad Pitt), a mountain climber practicing his sport for the Germans in the late 1930ís, sets out with a small party to climb the Himalayas. After an abortive attempt, the group is caught by British soldiers who inform them that the world is at war and they are now prisoners. Heinrich, fellow countryman Peter Aufschnaiter (David Thewlis), and a few others escape their internment and go their separate ways. Ultimately, only Heinrich and Peter are successful in evading death and recapture. When they meet up again they decide to travel together to Tibet to wait out the end of the war.
Although they sneak their way into the holy city of Lhasa, Tibetís capital city and the home of the young Dalai Lama (Jamyang Wangchuk), the foreigners are embraced by the populace and allowed to remain. Life settles into something resembling a normal routine, and the two find themselves in competition to win the heart of the townís beautiful tailor. Heinrich even becomes the unlikely friend of the teenaged Dalai Lama, whose thirst for knowledge can only be slaked by his well-traveled companion. Unfortunately, just as World War II is wrapping up, Tibet finds itself enmeshed in a struggle with China. A struggle which remains to this day.
Based on a true story, "Seven Years in Tibet" is a surprisingly reverent drama about overcoming adversity. In case you havenít heard of the controversy surrounding this film, it seems that Heinrich Harrer may actually have been an active German soldier instead of the somewhat anti-Nazi Austrian national portrayed in the film. Donít let this sway your mind about this leisurely-paced, thoughtful film. If anything, it makes Heinrichís spiritual evolution that much more profound. With a lovely score by the masterful John Williams and several sterling performances, "Seven Years in Tibet" is a sure bet to be heard from come Oscar time.