Seven Years in Tibet is a 1997 American biographical war drama film based on the 1952 book of the same name written by Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer on his experiences in Tibet between 1944 and 1951 during World War II, the interim period, and the Chinese People's Liberation Army's invasion of Tibet in 1950. Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud and starring Brad Pitt and David Thewlis, the score was composed by John Williams and features cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
In the story, Austrians Heinrich Harrer (Pitt) and Peter Aufschnaiter (Thewlis) are mountaineering in British India in an area that is now Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan. When World War II begins in 1939, their German citizenship results in their imprisonment by the British in a POW camp in Dehradun in the Himalayan foothills, in the present-day Indian state of Uttarakhand. In 1944, Harrer and Aufschnaiter escape the prison, and cross the border into Tibet, traversing the treacherous high plateau. While in Tibet, after initially being ordered to return to India, they are welcomed at the holy city of Lhasa, and become absorbed into an unfamiliar way of life. Harrer is introduced to the 14th Dalai Lama, who is still a boy, and becomes one of his tutors. During their time together, Heinrich becomes a close friend to the young spiritual leader. Harrer and Aufschnaiter stay in the country until the Chinese military campaign in 1950.