Synopsis: The Tibetans refer to the Dalai Lama as 'Kundun', which means 'The Presence'. He was forced to escape from his native home, Tibet, when communist China invaded and enforced an oppressive regime upon the peaceful nation of Tibet. The Dalai Lama escaped to India in 1959 and has been living in exile in Dharamsala ever since.
Director(s): Martin Scorsese
Production: Buena Vista Internationa
  Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 8 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
134 min

The Himalayas.

A still photograph, a portrait, of a mountain; the north

face of Chomolungma - a peak also known as Mount Everest -

twenty-nine thousand feet high.

We hear a very young boy speak.


Mama, my story.

A woman speaks:




Tell me.

Portrait of a mountain - Khangbochen - craggy peaks covered

with snow, twenty-four thousand feet high.


Your father had been very ill,

We thought he would die, and some

animals had died.



Portrait of a mountain - Shishapangma - twenty-six thousand

feet high.


And a yak. And chickens. And we

had four years of bad crops, all

the farmers did.

Portrait of a mountain - Anye Machin II - twenty thousand

feet high and slightly obscured by clouds.


In the night, I knew you were coming.

Now, the foothills. The still photograph of this barren

mountain range comes to life as we see something moving.

It is a small caravan - traveling this narrow mountain pass.


At dawn, you were born.

CLOSER on this caravan. We can make out eight or ten men,

walking, and on horseback, dressed in heavy, brocade coats,

and large woolen hats, black braids trailing down their

backs. A yellow palanquin is carried by four large monks,

wearing maroon robes.

The caravan reaches the top of the mountain pass and turns -

a sudden shift in direction - a switchback. The travelers

head downhill.


Tell me.

Now, we see the mens's destination. A lake. An incredibly

blue, circular lake, sunk between snow-dusted mountains. It

is LHAMO I' LATSO - "the Oracle Lake" - and it shimmers in

the sunlight.

As the lake comes into view, a young man pushes back the

curtain of the yellow palanquin and peers down at it.

The man is dressed in royal robes. He is young, twenty four

years old. His name is RETING RINPOCHE. He is the Regent

of Tibet.

The color of the lake changes - from brilliant turquoise, to

a deep, murky, unfathomable darkness.


You were a beautiful baby.

So calm.


No cried?

The woman laughs.


Maybe, just a little.

The palanquin is set down on a flat rock overlooking the

lake. The water's color changes again, to a deep purple,

then blue again, then red, then indigo.


And that day, your father

got better. He named you Lhamo.

"The Protector."


I know.


The noblemen and monks surround Reting as he steps out of

the palanquin.

One man stands out here, a monk, a high lama in fact, with a

kind face and fantastic, mesmerizing eyes. He is the LAMA



Go to sleep, Lhamo.

Reting stares at the lake.

The water turns a light grey, and an image appears - obscure

at first, then becoming more solid. A vision.

He sees a house - a small, stone, one-story, u-shaped house.

The house has a flat, tile roof and an unusual, wooden rain

gutter, with windows outlined in black and a prayer flag in

the courtyard. A spotted dog is in front of the house,

barking, though we cannot hear him. The vision becomes

completely clear, for an instant - clear enough to see the

face of a young boy at the window.

CLOSE on Reting Rinpoche. Looking. Searching.

Cut to:
a portrait of a mountain: Kyeri - a majestic,

glacier mountain - the "house mountain" of the village of

Takster, Amdo Province, North Eastern Tibet.

Sound returns as the wind whistles around this jagged,

mountain peak and then the view moves down, below the tree

line, and into the rhododendron forest and the farmlands,

until it comes to rest on a small, stone, u-shaped house. A

house caught in the dawn's mist.

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Melissa Mathison

Melissa Marie Mathison was an American film and television screenwriter and an activist for Tibetan freedom. more…

All Melissa Mathison scripts | Melissa Mathison Scripts

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Submitted by aviv on January 30, 2017

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    "Kundun" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 2 Oct. 2023. <https://www.scripts.com/script/kundun_890>.

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