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Windhorse (1998)

Paul Wagner  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

Price: $29.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Directors: Paul Wagner
  • Writers: Julia Elliott, Thupten Tsering
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, Tibetan
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: New Yorker
  • DVD Release Date: November 29, 2005
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000A59POC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #296,074 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Windhorse" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

A remarkable film produced under remarkable conditions, Windhorse dares to present a realistic and scathingly critical depiction of Chinese oppression in Tibet. It's obvious from the opening credits that director Paul Wagner (Oscar®-winning producer of the 1984 documentary short The Stone Carvers) has a message to deliver about the plight of Tibet, and his clunky filmmaking serves a formulaic, melodramatic story. Set in 1998, it's a simple tale, accessible to a wide audience, in which a young Tibetan singer named Dolkar (Dadon) is a rising star on the Chinese-owned nightclub circuit, growing too comfortable with her own integration into Chinese society in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. Her grandfather had been killed by the Chinese in 1959 for protesting against Chinese occupation, and now, 18 years later, her brother Dorjee (Jampa Kelsang) is aimless and unemployed, hating the Chinese and powerless to do anything about it. Their cousin Pema (played by an actress who must remain unidentified) is a Tibetan nun who is imprisoned and severely beaten for her outspoken protest against China and defiant embrace of the Dalai Lama as her religious leader. She is released to her family, weakened and on the verge of death, and her testimony about Chinese brutality is videotaped by a sympathetic American tourist (Teije Silverman). In depicting this dangerous activity, Windhorse becomes a vehicle for global awareness of Tibet's ongoing oppression.

This personal history and family turmoil provides an intimate perspective on the Tibetan cause, and much of the film was shot illegally in Tibet with digital home-video cameras, under the noses of the Chinese police. Many of the Tibetan actors and crewmembers remain unnamed in the credits to protect their identities, and this clandestine production strategy gives Windhorse a sense of urgent authenticity, also resulting in a variety of interesting anecdotes in Wagner's audio commentary, recorded with cowriter/coproducer Julia Elliot and exiled Tibetan cowriter Thupten Tsering. The result is more of a human-rights treatise than a truly satisfying movie, but Windhorse retains enough dramatic impact to provide a powerful and still controversial look at a political crisis that remains stubbornly unsolved. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Truly one of the most shocking but remarkable and authentic films I have ever seen in my whole life. As I watched "Windhorse," I could easily feel how the Tibetans, along with other minorities in China, such as Uygurs, were brutally maltreated by the Chinese Communists who determined to forcefully assimilate the Tibetans and other non-Chinese people into the Chinese mainstream society, which cause resentment and sometimes rage from these minorities.
This film began in a small, peaceful village in western Tibet in three years after the Cultural Revolution ended where Dorjee, Dolkar and Pema as the children lived and played happily in carefree matter. One afternoon, two police officers went into this village while the three children played cheerfully. Both then went into the children's home and shot the children's grandfather who displayed a poster in protest against the ruthless Chinese Communists and telling the Chinese to leave Tibet. This incident struck into the hearts of the three children forever. Eighteen years later after the death of their grandfather, all three of them were grown up and took the different paths. Dolkar, a lovely and gorgeous Tibetan woman who was fluent in both Chinese and Tibetan and had a Chinese boyfriend Duan-Ping from Chengdu, was a famous singer in the nightclub in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. She successfully signed a contract with the Chinese manager that would make her a national pop singer in China. She vowed that she would heed the "law and order" from the manager and the Communist Party so she could get huge salaries to support her family. Her older brother Dorjee, who also lived in Lhasa with her family, was a drunkard who was unemployed because he resented the Chinese people and had very little knowledge of Chinese language.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brutal Truth May 29, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
This movie, created by Tibetans in exile, accurately portrayes the modern Tibet. This picks up 40 years after 7 Years in Tibet and Kundun leave off.
This story, based on true events in Tibet tells the tales of three children, Dorjee, Pema and Dolkar, who grow apart after witnessing the murder of their grandfather. Dorjee becomes a bum, Dolkar a Chinese pop singer, and Pema a nun.
Dolkar enjoys her life as a singer with her Chinese boyfriend and often sings pro-chinese anthems for the money it brings her (much to Dorjee's obvious dismay.) When she is offered a chance at a televised concert shown all over China, she is thrilled, however when her cousin Pema is released into her care after suffering Chinese brutality in prison, she must re-think all of her ideals.
Dorjee befriends a young american tourist named Amy, who has learnt Tibetan in school. After initially teasing her, he shows her the REAL Lhasa, and enlists her help in recording and smuggling out information about the abuse Pema has suffered.
Pema is haunted by the memories of her grandfather's murder and while walking in Lhasa one day, starts to protest the Chinese occupation, whereupon she is sent into political prison. There she must use all of her will power and faith to keep her and her roommate from the convent alive.
The story keeps you on the edge of your seat, tugs at your heartstrings, and will leave you shocked, if not in tears.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars heart breakingly accurate March 29, 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Windhorse is a starkly accurate portrayal of life in occupied Tibet. The story, seen through the eyes of a young western backpacker, ends in the death of a Tibetan nun who has been released from the Chinese prison so that she will not die in prison from the torture. Shot illegally in Tibet, the names of much of the cast and crew is not revealed to protect the people and their families.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to understand China, Ask a Tibetan September 24, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
The government of China is America's latest trading partner. The most recent allegation is that Chinese police have resorted to torturing Tibetan Children in their obsession for control. This movie presents a vision that matches histories such as those told in the books "Tears of Blood/A Cry For Tibet" by Mary Craig and "In Exile From the Land Of Snows" by John Avedon. If you want to Understand the true Nature of the Government of China before you do business or purchase the "Made In China Label" ask a Tibetan. The latest news on Tibet can be found at ......
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Note: Chinese, Tibetan with some English narration and English subtitles.

Paul Wagner's 'Windhorse' has the feel and look of a television docu-drama. If I just happened to be channel surfing and came upon this film in progress I would probably assume it to be a new Asian soap opera on cable.

However having said that it must be understood by any potential viewer that this is a film where the message is first and foremost. Secretly filmed on location in Tibet at great risk, the intent of this movie is to enlighten the world to the ongoing oppression of the Tibetan people by the occupying Chinese miltary. For that reason alone it's worth a viewing.

Positives: It contains some magnificent panoramic views of the Tibetan landscape and exotic rural and urban settings. There's also some fine camera work in monasteries displaying the ornate colors and imagery the Tibetans are known for.

-3 Stars as docu-drama/soap opera - 5 Stars for the message - 4 Stars overall
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth seeing. Especially for those interested in the political...
A good film, and eye-opening for a lot of Western audiences. But it stumbles, a little bit, in not knowing whether or not it's a fictional artistic narrative, or a documentary.
Published 6 months ago by David M. Sellet
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
I enjoyed the movie very much. Shows the reality for many in Dharamsala and the Tibetan refugee community. Honest and pulls at your heart. I'll enjoy watching this many times.
Published 9 months ago by Senor Nahual
5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced movie with raw genuine emotions highlights the issues facing...
97 minutes. Filmed in 1996 in Nepal with some external scenes illegally shot in Tibet. This film tells the story of a Tibetan family who migrate from Western Tibet to Lhasa and... Read more
Published on September 30, 2009 by Jerome Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening look!
I first viewed this film from Netflix. I was so moved by the film that I just had to purchase it. Having been in Tibet,I know these people are very peaceful & don't deserve this... Read more
Published on August 25, 2008 by Montana Sal
4.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing
Everthing about this film kept me mesmerized. I had no idea that I was watching the movie for over an hour and a half until it ended. Read more
Published on August 4, 2006 by Mary A. Ozug
4.0 out of 5 stars Tibet's agony through a family dramma
This movie is surely a must for anyone interested in modern Tibet or for anyone that still thinks Tibet is that depicted by Scorsese or Annaud. Read more
Published on July 13, 2006 by Magalini Sabina
5.0 out of 5 stars Chairman Mao Strangles Tibet. A film of integrity
Forget "Kundun" or "Seven Years in Tibet." Good films, but those are Hollywood. For an emotionally authentic depiction of the oppression of the Tibetans, I don't think I can... Read more
Published on January 30, 2006 by Gerard D. Launay
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