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Seven Years in Tibet
Album Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Cello Solos by:
Yo-Yo Ma

Includes Excerpts Written and Performed by:
The Gyuto Monks

Orchestrated by:
John Neufeld
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Mandalay Records
(September 30th, 1997)
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Regular U.S. release.
Nominated for a Golden Globe and a Grammy Award.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if John Williams' most melodramatic and emotionally weighty themes for full orchestral melt your heart with great consistency, for this score contains one of his most majestic ideas of the decade.

Avoid it... if you expect Williams' score to make any substantial attempt to transcend mainstream appeal and adequately merge the Western ensemble with the vocals and percussion of the Tibetan culture.
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WRITTEN 9/30/97, REVISED 3/2/08
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Seven Years in Tibet: (John Williams) Of the two Dalai Lama-related films released in the latter half of 1997, Seven Years in Tibet was the pop culture answer to Martin Scorsese's Kundun. It's entirely possible that the only reason Jean-Jacques Annaud's film was green-lighted was due to Brad Pitt's portrayal of Heinrich Harrer in the lead. While the journey to self-discovery and redemption was the fascinating focus of the middle portion of Seven Years in Tibet, the film suffered from an attempt to address the entire modern history of the Tibetan fight for survival against Communist China rather than concentrating on the more interesting relationship between the 11-year-old Dalai Lama and Harrer, a former Nazi trapped in the British-controlled Himalayas at the start of World War II before escaping to Tibet. While the personal relationships in Kundun are explored with extreme respect and attention to detail, the friendship between Harrer and the Dalai Lama in Seven Years in Tibet are glossed over with the same bleached look of Pitt's hair. And thus, the film was artistically damaged despite wider mainstream appeal. The same problem exists with John Williams' score for Seven Years in Tibet, too, and one of the most interesting aspects of the maestro's approach to this project was his inability or unwillingness to travel down a musical route closer to Philip Glass' Oscar-nominated path with Kundun. Williams' score is very light on the authentic Tibetan elements, servicing the film with an extremely Western-centered and lushly romantic theme. There is significant dramatic weight built into the score, and the melancholy nature with which Williams addresses the wandering soul of Pitt's Harrer leads to a bittersweet atmosphere that only resolves with a mushy ending when required to do so for the character's ultimate redemption. As a listening experience, there is no doubt that Seven Years in Tibet makes for a far more fluid and enjoyable hour than Kundun. But Williams' attempts to insert a token reference to the Tibetan culture in his music only distract from the majestic appeal that the remainder of the score utilizes to symbolize the larger journey.

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Average: 3.65 Stars
***** 715 5 Stars
**** 563 4 Stars
*** 398 3 Stars
** 254 2 Stars
* 176 1 Stars
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Read All Start New Thread Search Comments
N.R.Q. - March 11, 2007, at 3:37 a.m.
1 comment  (2350 views)
An excellent score
Sheridan - August 18, 2006, at 2:50 p.m.
1 comment  (2457 views)
Delores Campbell - May 24, 2006, at 8:13 p.m.
1 comment  (2718 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 65:53
• 1. Seven Years in Tibet (7:08)
• 2. Young Dalai Lama and Ceremonial Chant (2:14)
• 3. Leaving Ingrid (2:43)
• 4. Peter's Rescue (3:45)
• 5. Harrer's Journey (4:05)
• 6. The Invasion (5:08)
• 7. Reflections (4:41)
• 8. Premonitions (2:56)
• 9. Approaching the Summit (5:44)
• 10. Palace Invitation (4:46)
• 11. Heinrich's Odyssey (8:03)
• 12. Quiet Moments (4:21)
• 13. Regaining a Son (1:48)
• 14. Seven Years in Tibet (Reprise) (7:13)

Notes Icon
Crew Picture
Yo-Yo Ma (cello), John Williams, and Jean-Jacques Annaud (producer/director)

The insert notes contain information about the historical premise of the film, as well as a message from director/producer Jean-Jacques Annaud (translated by Cecile Stratta), part of which is as follows:

"I have a lot of admiration for people whose work lies at the cross-roads of my two passions. If I believed in reincarnation, as the Tibetans do, my wish would be to come back as someone like John Williams, the composer and conductor, dividing my time between making music for films and music for its own sake.

I do not know whether the good faries would endow me with the same versitility and talent, but we are allowed to dream. The fact is that for years I have dreamt of being able to place my images in the hands of John Williams. I rank him with Prokofiev and Nino Rota, for he is one of those rare people who has found the perfect marraige, the bloom of true reciprocity that develops between the orchestra and the screen."
Copyright © 1997-2015, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Seven Years in Tibet are Copyright © 1997, Mandalay Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 9/30/97 and last updated 3/2/08.
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