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True story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama at the time of China's takeover of Tibet.
Dalai Lama: We have a saying in Tibet: If a problem can be solved there is no use worrying about it. If it can't be solved, worrying will do no good.
[meeting with the Chinese generals] Dalai Lama: Until I attain my majority, the regent is the political leader of Tibet. You should have requested an audience with him to discuss these important matters of the world. My experience of such things is limited. I am a simple Buddhist monk. All I know is the scripture and the words of Lord Buddha. He said, "All beings tremble before danger and death. Life is dear to all. When a man considers this, he does not kill, or cause to kill." You must understand, these words are ingrained in the heart of every Tibetan. It is why we are a peaceful people who reject violence on principle. I pray you will see this as our greatest strength, not our weakness. I thank you for your visit. Dalai Lama: [throws some incense] An offering to the Enlightened ones. General Chang Jing Wu: [getting up to leave] Religion is poison.
Heinrich Harrer: It's strange to me that something so harmless as a jacket could symbolize such a great lie.
Dalai Lama: I can't sleep. I'm afraid the dream might come back. Heinrich Harrer: A couple of insomniacs. Dalai Lama: Tell me a story, Heinrich. Tell me a story about climbing mountains. Heinrich Harrer: That's one way to fall asleep. Those stories bore even me. Dalai Lama: Then tell me what you love about it. Heinrich Harrer: The absolute simplicity. That's what I love. When you're climbing your mind is clear and free from all confusions. You have focus. And suddenly the light becomes sharper, the sounds are richer and you're filled with the deep, powerful presence of life. I've only felt that one other time. Dalai Lama: When? Heinrich Harrer: In your presence, Kundun.
Heinrich Harrer: That's the Olympic gold medal. Not important. Pema Lhaki: This is another great difference between our civilization and yours. You admire the man who pushes his way to the top in any walk of life, while we admire the man who abandons his ego.
Heinrich Harrer: In this place where time stands still it seems like everything is moving. Including me. I can't say I know where I'm going nor if my bad deeds can be purified. There are so many things I have done that I regret. But when I come to a full stop I hope you understand that the distance between us is not as great as it seems.
Ngawang Jigme: Hello, my friend. We did what was best for our country, for Tibet. Heinrich Harrer: On the way to Lhasa I would see Tibetans wearing those jackets. 'Chinese soldiers very nice. Give food, clothes and money. Very nice.' It's strange to me that something so harmless as a jacket can symbolize such a great lie. Ngawang Jigme: After all these years you still don't understand our Tibetan ways. To return a gift is unforgivable. Heinrich Harrer: A man who betrays his culture shouldn't preach about its customs. There was a time I would have wished you dead but your shame will be your torture and your torture will be your life. I wish it to be long.
Construction worker: In a past life this worm could have been your mother.
Heinrich Harrer: Ugh! Butter tea, it was never my cup of tea. [Peter begins to pour another cup] Heinrich Harrer: No, no, no. One was enough. Peter Aufschnaiter: [continues pouring] Yes. We must follow the custom. A fresh cup of tea is poured for the loved one departing. [picks up the tea] Peter Aufschnaiter: No, no, no, no, no. It sits untouched, waiting for his return.
Heinrich Harrer: There was a time that I would have wished you dead but your shame shall be your torture and your torture will be your life! I wish it to be long.
Dalai Lama: Do you think someday people will get Tibet on their movie screens and wonder what happened to us?
Heinrich Harrer: You have to leave. You have to leave Tibet, Kundun. Your life's at great risk. Forgive my presumption but I have made arrangements to get you out safely. We should leave directly after the enthronement, the Chinese won't expect it. Dalai Lama: How can I help people if I run away from them? What kind of leader would I be? I have to stay here, Heinrich. Serving others is my path to deliberation. Heinrich Harrer: Then I don't go either. Dalai Lama: Why not? Heinrich Harrer: Because you are my path to deliberation. Dalai Lama: The Buddha said 'Salvation doesn't come from the sight of me. It demands strenuous effort and practise. So work hard and seek your own salvation constantly.' I am not your son. And I've never thought of you as my father. You've been much too informal to me for that. Do you ever think about him? [Heinrich cries, nodding] Dalai Lama: And what do you think about? Heinrich Harrer: It's not a conscious thought really, Kundun. He is always there. When I crossed Tibet he was with me. When I came to Lhasa he was with me. When I sit beside you he is there with me. I can't even imagine how to picture the world without him in it.
Dalai Lama: ...You can not ask a devout people to disregard a precious teaching. Heinrich Harrer: Yes but Your Holiness, with due respect, erm, we can't possibly [laughs] Heinrich Harrer: I'm sorry, but we can't possibly save all the worms! Not if you want a theater in this lifetime. Dalai Lama: You have a clever mind. Think of a solution. And in the meantime you can explain to me, what is an elevator.
Peter Aufschnaiter: Know what time it is? You think I'm so happy to be travelling with you I should pay for it? You're such a big man that you don't need to contribute? Heinrich Harrer: You have a problem, Peter? Peter Aufschnaiter: It reminds me of what you said at the bazaar back there. 'If I had a watch like that I would trade it.' You do not have one, you cheap, lying bastard! You have three! Heinrich Harrer: This is junk from some Italian prisoners. Peter Aufschnaiter: I don't give a shit! Haven't you ever heard of a principle? Heinrich Harrer: What principle? What? You want a watch? Go ahead, take one, and keep your principles. Peter Aufschnaiter: Look at you! Caught being a selfish brat and you're gloating! Heinrich Harrer: You're acting like an old woman, Peter. What do you want? Peter Aufschnaiter: Try apologizing. Try feeling a little remorse. And for all that's fair try to wipe that smirk off your face!
[On the Himalayas] Heinrich Harrer: A place rich with all the strange beauty of your nighttime dreams.
[first lines] Heinrich Harrer: Why must you be this way? Why, why is there always a problem? It's a good question. Do you want to go home? Do you want to turn around? Ingrid Harrer: Yes. Heinrich Harrer: Would that make... It's the Himalayas! How long have I been talking about the Himalayas? How long?
Dalai Lama: Do you listen to news from your country? Heinrich Harrer: From Austria? No, not really. Give me some light, Kundun. Dalai Lama: Why? It's your home. Heinrich Harrer: Not anymore it isn't. Dalai Lama: But don't you have friends and family there? Heinrich Harrer: A few friends, no family. Keep the light steady, your Holiness. Dalai Lama: Why? Is everyone dead? Heinrich Harrer: Do you know there's another way a sentence can be constructed than a question? I was married but I'm divorced. Dalai Lama: What did you do? Heinrich Harrer: I didn't want a child so I ran away to climb a mountain.
Peter Aufschnaiter: Oh, by the way, I heard the Japanese have retreated all the way back to Shanghai. So even if you make it to the Chinese border you may have difficulties catching up with them. Heinrich Harrer: I don't care if they've retreated all the way back to Tokyo. Peter Aufschnaiter: You should if you want to get back to Austria. Heinrich Harrer: But I don't. Peter Aufschnaiter: You don't what? Heinrich Harrer: Plan to go back. Peter Aufschnaiter: Why not? Heinrich Harrer: No particular reason. But when you get there tell my wife that two years in prison camp is roughly equal ant to four years of marriage and I'm glad to be free of them both.
Heinrich Harrer: Raising their flag is an honor the Chinese do not deserve. Ngawang Jigme: When you are not strong enough to fight, you should embrace your enemy. With both arms around you he cannot point a gun at you. Nothing in politics is a matter of honor, my friend.
Kungo Tsarong: Must one have a reason to help those in need?
Ingrid Harrer: [in a letter] Dear Heinrich. Please sign the divorce papers and send them to my lawyer. Horst and I intend to be married as soon as the divorce is finalized. As for your letter, yes, your son Rolf Harrer was born while you were climbing the mountain. He is now two years old and calls Horst papa. When he is old enough I'll tell him his real father was lost in the Himalayas. It seems the kindest thing to say since you never wanted the child anyway. Needless to say I have to intentions resolving our differences as you suggested. They were resolved the moment you left Austria. I'm sorry you have been imprisoned in India and hope this dreadful war will soon be over for everyone's sake.
Reporter: When are you due, Mrs. Harrer? Ingrid Harrer: About the time my husband reaches the base camp.
Heinrich Harrer: If only my hand could express, what is in my heart.
Heinrich Harrer: Better a dead father than a lousy father.
Heinrich Harrer: So much time to question oneself is... not good.
Heinrich Harrer: You're a seamstress. Pema Lhaki: I'm a tailor, sir. The only tailor in Lhasa who has been to Calcutta and can reproduce these silly costumes.
Heinrich Harrer: In my humble opinion, this is ridiculous. Peter Aufschnaiter: Well, then, since you're so humble, we won't ask your opinion.
Heinrich Harrer: I have nothing to do with your silly war.
Peter Aufschnaiter: You should have told me how bad that wound was. I should take a look at it. I can sew it up. Heinrich Harrer: It's not your problem. Peter Aufschnaiter: Actually it is my problem. It's my life. Heinrich Harrer: What? Peter Aufschnaiter: When you conceal serious injury and put my life at risk I consider that my problem. Heinrich Harrer: No, you put your life at risk. I saved it so shut up! Peter Aufschnaiter: Please, it's not your place. Heinrich Harrer: Shut up! Peter Aufschnaiter: Next time you lie about an injury, Heinrich, you're off the team. Heinrich Harrer: Try it.
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