Sunday, June 11, 2006


I just finished watching Seven Years in Tibet on DVD. It was a strange film, and I really enjoyed some aspects while at the same time disliking others. I wanted to watch it for the scenery, and wasn't expecting much from the plot, but I did get drawn in, and it has inspired me to find out more about Tibet and the plight of its people.

The most frustrating thing about the film is the ridiculous German accents adopted by the two main characters. If an actor is speaking in English, rather than the character's original language, then I think they should just speak English with their own voice. Brad Pitt's character in this film would not have spoken German with a dodgy accent, so why should we hear him speak English with one? Unless a character is speaking a language that is foreign to them (say when Pitt's Austrian climber speaks halting Tibetan) then it is fine for them to have an accent, but when they are speaking a representation of their own language they should speak it fluently. I felt that the silly accents really compromised the integrity of the characters and distracted the attention of the viewer.

Accents aside, this film was beautiful to watch. The Tibetan culture was probably unrealistically idealised - it was certainly portrayed as a "paradise" in the midst of a world of chaos and war. The landscapes were stunning, the people beautiful and generous, and everyone had enough food to eat. Despite this fairy-tale gloss, I did feel an undercurrent of genuine expression - of Buddhist serenity and principles of kindness and non-violence.

The plot was pretty straightforward, and the film seemed to meander along in its own time, which suited the setting. Pitty about the annoying accents, because this film could have been really lovely without that constant reminder of fakery.

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