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10 Best Movies About Tibet To Watch

These movies about Tibet show a land of breathtaking landscapes, ancient traditions, and spiritual mystique. These films not only showcase the rich cultural tapestry of Tibet but also shed light on the struggles faced by its people, offering you a cinematic journey into a world that is both enchanting and politically complex.


Movies About Tibet

From the ethereal chants echoing in monasteries to the majestic peaks that seem to touch the heavens, these movies about Tibet capture the essence of a place where spirituality intertwines with the rugged beauty of the mountains.

Tibet has long fascinated me and I have seen all these movies and documentaries mentioned here. There are lots of other options to watch of course but these are some of the best and are a good variety of different genres.

Disclaimer: I’ve added links to Amazon where you can watch these movies and they are affiliate links which means I get a small commission at no extra cost to you if you watch through them. Thanks.


Seven Years in Tibet (1997)

Seven Years in Tibet is a cinematic odyssey that transports you into the heart of Tibet, offering a captivating narrative woven with elements of adventure, self-discovery, and cultural exploration.

It’s based on the memoir of the same name by Heinrich Harrer and the film recounts the true story of Harrer’s experiences in Tibet during the tumultuous years leading up to World War II.

The tale unfolds as Harrer is a confident Austrian mountaineer seeking glory as he embarks on an expedition to conquer Nanga Parbat, one of the world’s most formidable peaks. However, his aspirations are abruptly halted by the outbreak of war, leading him to be interned in a British prisoner-of-war camp in India.

Determined to escape, Harrer and a fellow prisoner make a daring break, embarking on a perilous journey that eventually brings them to the secluded realm of Tibet.

As Harrer assimilates into Tibetan society, the film beautifully captures the mystique and spiritual richness of the region. His encounters with the young Dalai Lama, portrayed by Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk, become the focal point of the narrative, highlighting the transformative impact of their friendship on Harrer’s perspective.

Seven Years in Tibet skillfully intertwines personal growth with geopolitical tensions, shedding light on the Chinese invasion of Tibet and its repercussions. The film’s cinematography skillfully navigates the awe-inspiring landscapes of Tibet, immersing you in the serene beauty of its monasteries, snow-capped mountains, and vast expanses.

This is easily one of the best movies about Tibet you should watch. It’s a personal favourite of mine for many years now.

Watch on Amazon:

Trailer:


Kundun (1997)

Kundun is a visually evocative film directed by Martin Scorsese that delves into the life of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. Released in the same year as “Seven Years in Tibet,” “Kundun” provides another cinematic exploration of Tibet, this time focusing on the spiritual and political journey of the Dalai Lama.

The film unfolds as a chronological narrative, chronicling the life of Tenzin Gyatso from his discovery as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama at the age of two to his escape to India in the face of the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950. The young Dalai Lama is portrayed by various actors at different stages of his life.

Kundun stands out for its stunning cinematography, capturing the majestic landscapes of Tibet and the intricate details of its monastic life. The title “Kundun” translates to “The Presence” in Tibetan, reflecting the reverence with which the Dalai Lama is regarded.

The film offers a nuanced portrayal of the Dalai Lama’s spiritual journey, the challenges he faced in trying to maintain Tibet’s autonomy in the face of Chinese occupation, and the complexities of his role as both a religious leader and a political figure.

This is one of the best movies about Tibet to watch to gain an insight into the life of the Dalai Lama.

Full movie on YouTube:


Windhorse (1998)

Windhorse is a unique and thought-provoking film that offers a fictional yet powerful narrative set against the backdrop of the political and cultural challenges faced by Tibet.

The story revolves around a young Tibetan singer named Dolkar, played by Dadon, who dreams of pop stardom. Her aspirations take a dramatic turn when her cousin, Pema, becomes involved in the Tibetan independence movement, leading to a chain of events that profoundly impact Dolkar’s life.

The film skillfully weaves together personal and political narratives, providing a nuanced exploration of the struggles faced by Tibetans under Chinese rule.

“Windhorse” is notable for its use of a mix of documentary and narrative styles. The filmmakers incorporate real footage from Tibet, enhancing the authenticity of the film and shedding light on the harsh realities faced by the Tibetan people. The characters grapple with issues of identity, cultural suppression, and the complex interplay between personal dreams and political turmoil.

The title “Windhorse” refers to the mythical creature in Tibetan Buddhist tradition, symbolizing the human soul or spirit. The film uses this metaphor to explore the resilience and strength of the Tibetan people in the face of adversity.

While “Windhorse” may not be as widely known as some other movies about Tibet, it is recognized for its unique approach, blending fiction and reality to tell a compelling and emotionally resonant story.

Trailer:


Himalaya (1999)

Himalaya, also known as “Caravan” in some regions, is a visually stunning drama set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Himalayas, the film offers a compelling narrative that explores the clash between tradition and modernity within a remote Tibetan village.

The story revolves around the aftermath of the death of the tribal chief in a traditional salt caravan. The chief’s son, Karma, feels entitled to take over the leadership role, but a seasoned caravan leader, Tinle, challenges him. The power struggle and generational conflict intensify as the villagers prepare for the annual salt caravan, a perilous journey through treacherous mountain terrain.

Himalaya gives a nuanced portrayal of the cultural and societal dynamics within the village. The film delves into themes of honour, loyalty, and the tension between preserving ancient traditions and adapting to a changing world. The breathtaking cinematography captures the majestic landscapes of the Himalayas, adding a profound visual dimension to the narrative.

What sets “Himalaya” apart is its commitment to authenticity. The film features non-professional actors from the Dolpo region, bringing a genuine and immersive quality to the storytelling. Additionally, the use of the local Tibetan language adds an extra layer of authenticity to the film.

Trailer:


Kekexili: Mountain Patrol (2004)

Kekexili: Mountain Patrol, also known simply as “Mountain Patrol”, is a film based on true events and tells the story of a group of Tibetan volunteers who formed a mountain patrol to combat illegal poaching of endangered Tibetan antelopes, known as chiru or Tibetan antelope, in the Kekexili region of the Tibetan Plateau.

The Tibetan antelope is highly valued for its wool, which is used to make shahtoosh, a luxurious and expensive fabric. The film portrays the challenges faced by the volunteers as they confront well-armed and ruthless poachers in the harsh and remote terrain of the Kekexili Nature Reserve.

“Kekexili: Mountain Patrol” is notable for its gripping narrative, stunning cinematography capturing the vast landscapes of the Tibetan Plateau, and its exploration of the ethical dilemmas faced by the patrol members.

The film delves into themes of environmental conservation, the clash between traditional ways of life and economic pressures, and the dedication of individuals to protect endangered species.

This is one of my favourite movies about Tibet as it brings attention to the challenges of wildlife conservation in the region and the commitment of those who strive to preserve the unique biodiversity of the Tibetan Plateau.

Trailer:


Balloon (2019)

Balloon is a 2019 Tibetan-language drama film directed by Pema Tseden. The film tells the story of a Tibetan shepherd family living on the grasslands of the Tibetan Plateau. The family faces challenges as they navigate issues related to tradition, modernity, and the Chinese government’s policies.

The central plot revolves around a dispute between the husband and wife over whether to continue the traditional practice of carrying out a sky burial for their deceased father or to follow the Chinese authorities’ mandate for a cremation.

The film explores the tensions arising from cultural clashes, generational differences, and the impact of government regulations on the lives of Tibetan people.

“Balloon” is brilliant for its portrayal of Tibetan culture, the breathtaking landscapes of the Tibetan Plateau, and its nuanced examination of the cultural and political complexities faced by Tibetan communities.

The film captures the daily lives of the characters and sheds light on the challenges they encounter as they attempt to navigate the intersection of tradition and modernity. This is one of the more recent movies about Tibet to watch.

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The Velvet Queen (2021)

The Velvet Queen is set high up on the Tibetan plateau, among unexplored valleys, where one of the last sanctuaries of the wild world awaits and rare and undiscovered fauna live.

Vincent Munier, who is one of the world’s most famous wildlife photographers, takes adventurer Sylvain Tesson with him on this mission. Over several weeks, they’ll explore these valleys in search of unique animals and hopefully spot the snow leopard, one of the rarest and elusive of the big cats in the world.

This is one of the most beautiful documentaries about Tibet and the wildlife there that you can watch.

Watch on Amazon:

Trailer:


Tharlo (2015)

Tharlo is another Tibetan language film directed by Pema Tseden. The is based on Tseden’s own novella of the same name.

The story revolves around Tharlo, a Tibetan shepherd who is asked by local authorities to obtain an ID card in order to comply with new regulations. As he navigates the bureaucratic process and encounters the modern world, Tharlo undergoes a transformation that challenges his traditional way of life.

The film explores themes of identity, cultural clash, and the impact of modernization on traditional societies. It has unique storytelling and stunning cinematography and is one of the more unusual and interesting movies about Tibet to watch.

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Trailer:


Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion (2002)

Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion is not a movie but a documentary that provides a comprehensive and visually stunning exploration of the history, culture, and political situation in Tibet. Through a combination of archival footage, interviews, and on-the-ground reporting, the film sheds light on the challenges faced by the Tibetan people, both historically and in contemporary times.

The documentary spans a wide range of topics, including Tibet’s ancient Buddhist traditions, the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950, the exile of the 14th Dalai Lama, and the ongoing struggle for Tibetan autonomy. “Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion” also addresses the cultural and environmental impact of Chinese policies on the Tibetan plateau.

The film features interviews with various individuals, including the Dalai Lama, Tibetan activists, Chinese officials, and ordinary Tibetans. These voices provide a multifaceted perspective on the complex issues surrounding Tibet and its relationship with China.

The title, “Cry of the Snow Lion,” refers to the iconic snow lion symbol in Tibetan culture, representing the country’s majestic landscapes. The use of this symbol reflects the film’s focus on the unique cultural identity of Tibet and the challenges it faces.

Critically acclaimed for its cinematography and storytelling, “Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion” serves as an informative and emotionally resonant documentary that invites you to engage with the historical and contemporary struggles of the Tibetan people.

Out of all the documentaries about Tibet to watch, this is one of the best.

Trailer:


Tibet in Song (2009)

Tibet in Song is a documentary film that is a personal and musical exploration of Tibet’s cultural heritage and the impact of Chinese policies on Tibetan traditional music.

The documentary follows the journey of Ngawang Choephel, a Tibetan ethnomusicologist, as he returns to Tibet to document and preserve traditional folk songs. Ngawang Choephel was born in Tibet but fled to India as a child, and the film documents his attempt to reconnect with his roots and the musical heritage of his homeland.

As he travels through Tibet, Ngawang Choephel interviews and records traditional musicians, capturing the rich tapestry of Tibetan music. The film not only serves as a celebration of Tibetan culture and art but also addresses the challenges faced by Tibetan artists and the impact of Chinese policies on cultural preservation.

One of the notable aspects of “Tibet in Song” is its focus on the power of music as a form of cultural resistance and resilience. The documentary explores how traditional songs have served as a means of expressing the Tibetan identity and maintaining a connection to the cultural heritage, even in the face of political challenges.

Trailer:


Tibet

Whether exploring the intricacies of Tibetan Buddhism, the resilience of its inhabitants, or the geopolitical tensions surrounding the region, these movies about Tibet provide a lens through which you can glimpse the enigmatic allure of Tibet.

Also, have a look at the best movies about Mongolia.


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