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Kundun (1997)

Tenzin Thuthob Tsarong , Gyurme Tethong , Martin Scorsese  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (222 customer reviews)

Price: $15.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Tenzin Thuthob Tsarong, Gyurme Tethong, Tulku Jamyang Kunga Tenzin, Tenzin Yeshi Paichang, Tencho Gyalpo
  • Directors: Martin Scorsese
  • Writers: Melissa Mathison
  • Producers: Barbara De Fina, Jeanne Stack, Laura Fattori, Melissa Mathison, Perry Santos
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Walt Disney Video / Mill Creek
  • DVD Release Date: October 14, 1998
  • Run Time: 134 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (222 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305090580
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,288 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Kundun" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

It would be a mistake to call Kundun a disappointment, or a film that director Martin Scorsese was not equipped to create. Both statements may be true to some viewers, but they ignore the higher purpose of Scorsese's artistic intention and take away from a film that is by any definition unique. In chronicling the life of the 14th Dalai Lama, Kundun defies conventional narrative in favor of an episodic approach, presenting a sequential flow of events from the life of the young leader of Buddhist Tibet. From the moment he is recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1937 to his exile from Tibet in the wake of China's invasion, the Dalai Lama is seen as an enlightened spiritual figurehead. This gives the film its tone of serenity and reverence but denies us the privilege of admiring the Dalai Lama as a fascinating human character. There's a sense of mild detachment between the film and its audience, but its visual richness offers ample compensation. In close collaboration with cinematographer Roger Deakins, Scorsese filmed Kundun with great pageantry and ritual, and meticulous attention to details of costume, color, and the casting of actual Buddhist monks in the scenes at the Dalai Lama's palace. Certain images will linger in the memory for a long time, such as the Dalai Lama's nightmarish vision of standing among hundreds of dead monks, their lives sacrificed in pacifist defiance of Chinese aggression. Is this a film you'll want to watch repeatedly? Perhaps not. But as a political drama and an elegant gesture of devotion, Kundun is a film of great value and inspirational beauty--one, after all, that perhaps only Scorsese could have made. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

Praised as one of the best films of the year, KUNDUN is a motion picture masterpiece directed by five-time Academy Award(R)-nominated director Martin Scorsese. It's the incredible true story of one of the world's most fascinating leaders -- Tibet's Dali Lama and his daring struggle to rule a nation at one of the most challenging times in its history. Powerfully told and set against a backdrop of world politics -- the film's release created an international uproar! Featuring a striking Oscar(R)-nominated score by renowned composer Philip Glass, this extraordinary motion picture has been greeted with both controversy and worldwide acclaim -- experience it for yourself!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
117 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PROFOUND SPIRITUAL BEAUTY October 6, 2000
One of the beauties of KUNDUN comes from the way it preserves and recreates a culture that is now almost extinct, of a Tibet which is now almost completely destroyed. And it is a beautiful culture, where almost every detail is related with spiritual value, the very values that our contemporary culture is in the verge of completely losing them, yet still so essential to human life. To see this film is, first and foremost, like a meditation.
Dante Ferretti's design recreating faithfully the traditional costumes and building with a great reality, with Roger Deakins beautiful cinematography (which depth, nuances and richness of colors are so beautifully transferred on this DVD), as well as Philip Glass's music, make KUNDUN a visual poem. Also must be noted is Thelma Schoonmaker's complex editing which explores and reveals the complexity of the story and giving them a beautiful, almost musical rhythm. According to Mr. Scorsese, the climatic Sand-Mandhala montage sequence that cross-cut the Dalai Lama's exile to India and a religious ceremony was her idea, and it brings the film up to an incredible spiritual level. Yet, Scorsese does not show Tibet as an idyllic and idealized society. By using the young Dalai Lama's point of view as a narrative strategy throughout the film, by showing almost everything through his eyes, the film also glimpses at the complexity of the Tibetan society and its own problems; "I didn't know monks has guns" "Is there a prison in Potala" says the 12 years old Dalai Lama.
Violence, or human pain to be more exact, is also present in this film. An amazing nightmare sequence shows the Dalai Lama in the midle of thousands of dead monks. A typical Scorsese image?
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated... (but thats changing) August 28, 2005
By Kev
I'm really happy to see so many positive reviews for this movie. Martin Scorsese. Phillip Glass. The Dali Lama. How can you go wrong? I remember watching this the first time and liking it, but feeling that it lacked cohesion. It does take awhile for the Kundun to mature to an adult so we can identify with him and care about him.

But now I look at the film as being almost two separate parts. The first half shows us the Dali Lama as a child who must take on the role of Kundun and gives us a very slow (and beautiful) sense of environment and atmosphere. It also quietly sets up characters that will grow in importance as the film continues. The second "adult half" of the movie focuses on the Kundun having to deal with an aggressive communist China closing in on him and his people.

I feel like many people (including Ebert who said this is the only Scorsese movie he would not want to see again...) watch it once and say it was slow and they didn't care about the Dali Lama character enough. Well if you only watch it once you won't be able to see the detail (like the shot of the Kundun looking at Mao's shoes, or the baby Kundun separating the fighting beetles) , and depth that make up the fabric of this movie. There are all kinds of great shots and quick edits (the 3 seconds of violence in this film are more powerful then the lengthened violence in other films), and symbolism that you simply can't get your mind around the first time you watch this movie. Having said all of that, the cinematography alone would make this movie worth getting. And at $10, you make out like a bandit.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to Judge? February 8, 2000
Having read the previous 49 reviews, what can I add? There are maybe three ways to review a film: on craft (how the film medium is used), on content (is this story worth telling?), and for a "true story" film, is it true? If you are a student of film (officially or not) and know something about Scorsese, you MUST see this film. Very, very few films since the invention of "talkies" have used the medium as brilliantly. Mathison's script, Glass' music, Deakins' cinematography, the incredible amateur acting: On the craft score, this is Scorsese's greatest work. The story of a young boy raised to be the spiritual - and forced to be the political - leader of his country may not attract everyone. There's nothing for it: that is the storyline of one of the greatest films ever made. As for "true stories," one reviewer compared Scorsese to David Lean, who made "Lawrence of Arabia." As a lifelong student of history and cinema, I can say that all "true stories" must compress events and characters, must make one incident or one dialog stand for many, and that all must be colored by the historical viewpoint of their tellers. Both David Lean and Martin Scorsese have clearly tried to capture their subjects sincerely and represent "truth" with all their skill and within the limits of their medium. Scorsese has let the Tibetans tell this story through him. Buddhists can usually be counted on for greater than average objectivity. From everything I have read and all I have talked to about Lawrence and about Tibet, Scorcese has done a far better job of representing history than Lean. If you have any interest in film or Tibet, see this in widescreen. It will almost certainly be the best film about the Dalai Lama ever to be made.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars 14th Dalai Lama vs. Mao and Company
The film title "Kundun" refers to the name given to the 14 Dalai Lamas of Tibet. Each was a young boy when selected, and then trained to be Tibet's spiritual and temporal leader. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Dennis at Holy Apostles
5.0 out of 5 stars This film was made with the help of many with ...
This film was made with the help of many with genuine knowledge of the events of the Dalai Lalma's life and the traditions of his homeland, Tibet. Read more
Published 20 days ago by M A Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
beautiful story of His Holiness's life.
Published 1 month ago by nedra comack
5.0 out of 5 stars great movie
received in great condition great movie
Published 1 month ago by Karen Branch
4.0 out of 5 stars Kundun
As part of an assignment for one of my classes, I watched Kundun for the first time and I thought it was very good. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kimberly
4.0 out of 5 stars sylvestre
Kundun is a story of indomitable will and fervent religious commitment set against a spectacular physical backdrop and compelling world politics. Read more
Published 1 month ago by sylvestre
5.0 out of 5 stars highly recommended.
This is a must watch for anyone who want's to see a different perspective on what one can do in their lives, highly recommended.
Published 2 months ago by Fantus
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Best movie I have ever watched.
Published 2 months ago by Phoenix customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A fav of mine
Wore thd original dvd out and this is replacement. Inspiring life and well done flick. Thanks for excellene price and service.
Published 2 months ago by Lyz Clark
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly beautiful film about the young Dalai Lama
I purchased this hoping to learn more about the Dalai Lama and to experience some nice moments of top-notch cinema, and I wasn't disappointed on either account. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Carl Stubbs
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