Last Updated on: June 26th, 2024

Kundun (Touchstone Movie)

“Kundun” is a biographical drama film released in 1997, directed by Martin Scorsese. The movie tells the life story of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, from his childhood to his spiritual leadership in Tibet.

The film begins with the search for the 14th Dalai Lama, following the death of the 13th Dalai Lama. A young boy named Lhamo Thondup (played by Tenzin Thuthob Tsarong) is identified as the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama through a series of mystical tests and signs. He is taken from his family and brought to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, where he undergoes rigorous training to become the spiritual and political leader of Tibet.

As the young Dalai Lama grows older, he faces the challenges of leading his country amid political turmoil and the threat of invasion by China. The film portrays the Dalai Lama’s efforts to maintain peace and spiritual harmony in Tibet, as well as his struggles with the Chinese government’s attempts to control the region.

“Kundun” is known for its stunning cinematography and attention to detail in depicting the rich culture and traditions of Tibet. The film also explores the Dalai Lama’s spiritual journey and his commitment to nonviolence and compassion in the face of adversity.

Martin Scorsese’s direction and Philip Glass’s evocative musical score contribute to the film’s emotional depth and resonance. The movie received critical acclaim for its portrayal of the Dalai Lama’s life and the complex political situation in Tibet.

However, “Kundun” also faced controversy, particularly from the Chinese government, which accused the film of being biased and promoting separatism. As a result, the film was banned in China and faced challenges in distribution.

Despite the controversies, “Kundun” remains a powerful and thought-provoking film that sheds light on the life and struggles of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people. It serves as a testament to the power of faith, resilience, and the pursuit of peace in the face of oppression.

Overall, “Kundun” is a visually stunning and emotionally impactful film that offers a compelling portrayal of the life and spiritual journey of the Dalai Lama. It is a tribute to the resilience of the Tibetan people and their enduring quest for freedom and self-determination.


Additional Details


  • Tenzin Thuthob Tsarong: the Dalai Lama (Adult)
  • Gyurme Tethong: the Dalai Lama (Age 12)
  • Tulku Jamyang Kunga Tenzin: the Dalai Lama (Age 5)
  • Tenzin Yeshi Paichang: the Dalai Lama (Age 2)
  • Tencho Gyalpo: the Dalai Lama’s mother
  • Tenzin Topjar: Lobsang (age 5 to 10)
  • Tsewang Migyur Khangsar: the Dalai Lama’s father
  • Tenzin Lodoe: Takster Rinpoche
  • Tsering Lhamo: Tsering Dolma
  • Geshi Yeshi Gyatso: the Lama of Sera
  • Losang Gyatso: The Messenger
  • Sonam Phuntsok: Reting Rinpoche
  • Gyatso Lukhang: Lord Chamberlain
  • Lobsang Samten: Master of the Kitchen
  • Jigme Tsarong: Taktra Rinpoche
  • Tenzin Trinley: Ling Rinpoche
  • Robert Lin: chairman Mao Zedong
  • Jurme Wangda: Prime Minister Lukhangwa
  • Jill Hsia: Little Girl


  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Producer: Barbara De Fina
  • Writer: Melissa Mathison

Movie Trailer:

About the Author

Craig Smith
I am founder and editor of DisneyNews.us. My passion for all things Disney goes pretty far back to my first trip to Walt Disney World in the mid-80's. I have since returned to the magical place more than 20 times. I started this site when I came to the realization that I spent a significant portion of my day reading articles about Disney and watching Disney content with my 8-year old, so it made sense that I would start sharing some of what I read and see and building a little community around it. Other interests include 80's nostalgia, vintage toys, video games, LEGO, Star Wars and tech gadgets. Other site isDMR.