Identify a theme for Seven Years in Tibet.

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Another important theme of the film is how it's possible for people to discover their true selves by coming into contact with another culture. Heinrich Harrer has achieved extraordinary success as a mountaineer. He is wealthy, famous, and highly-esteemed the world over for his remarkable achievements. But there seems to be something missing in his life, seen in the form of a lack of any real spiritual depth. His career as a mountain climber has formed in his mind a wholly material outlook on life, one which sees mountains simply as objects to be climbed, barriers to be surmounted in pursuit of a quest for worldly success and achievement.

Yet Harrer's experiences in Tibet change his entire worldview. In climbing over the mountains and into Tibet, Harrer has entered a whole new world, a spiritual world, one in which he will finally discover who he really is. His discovery of Buddhism and the spiritual rebirth it engenders gives him a deeper, more fulfilling insight into the world around him. For the first time in his life, he feels a sense of oneness with nature, no longer seeing it as something to be exploited and mastered but rather as an integral component of the unified world-soul of which he is now a part.

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One theme of Seven Years in Tibet is that of rebirth as Heinrich Harrer, a renowned mountain climber, set out to climb Nanga Parbat in India. Unfortunately for Harrer, he ended up as a POW (prisoner of war) in a British camp because he was a German, and WWII had just started.

When he escapes, Harrer spends almost two years hiking over the Himalayas to the Land of Snows. When he finally reaches Tibet, he literally has climbed his way into another culture: an entire different way of life that Westerners do not experience. Upon his discovery of Buddhism, he undergoes a spiritual rebirth that changes his life forever. He also becomes an advisor to the Dalai Lama.

In fact, Harrer and Peter Aufscnaither (his climbing partner) were among the first Westerners allowed to live in Lhasa. Harrer believed this honor was bestowed upon them because no Westerner had ever achieved this climbing challenge. After his time in Tibet, Heinrich Harrer was forever a changed man.

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One immediate theme that can apply to Seven Years in Tibet would be that appearances can be deceiving. Harrer is a German, and thus can be seen as a stereotypical German Nazi.  This appearance is not the case as he demonstrates himself to being a loyal and honorable servant to the Dalai Lama.  Ngawang Jigme might have appeared to be a staunch soldier who would stand by a free and independent Tibet as well as the Dalai Lama's wishes.  His narrative reveals him to be someone who ends up "betraying his culture" with actions that were easily subdued by the Chinese.  To a great extent, even the Tibetan Culture, something shown to be so different for Harrer and something he perceived to be foreign and alien, ends up becoming something very approachable and something that Harrer becomes immersed in as a result of his experiences. Both of them become close friends, something not initially seen. The appearances initially shown prove to be deceiving as the narrative unfolds.  

Another theme present in the film is the need to transform reality.  The theme of transformation is seen in how the Dalai Lama resists the Chinese's attempt to control Tibet.  The Dalai Lama stands firm to his idea that the Chinese vision of reality does not have to be immediately accepted.  Harrer find his own reality transformed as a consequence of his work with the Dalai Lama and in his understanding of him.  Harrer learns that his own reality can be transformed through his embrace of Buddhism.  When the Dalal Lama teaches him about all life, one sees where the theme of transformation impacts Harrer on a personal level:  ''In a past life, this innocent worm could have been your mother. Please, no more hurting!"  The transformational quality of understanding the world and one's place in it is another theme that can apply to the film.

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