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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Oct. 13, 1997)
‘Tibet’ turns triumph of cinematic style
--—- r ’ . ...1
By Bret Schulte
You probably already have heard a few things
about “Seven Years in Tibet”: It’s boring, it’s too
long and Pitt’s accent is horrible.
Well, the film isn’t boring.
Although “Seven Years” feels like it is being
shot in real time, it clocks in at a shocking 131 min
utes -just barely edging out the longevity of its own
subject matter. And yes, Pitt’s accent sounds vague
ly reminiscent of Sean Connery’s confused, yet dar
ing Lithuanian-Scottish tongue roll in the subma
rine cinema epic “The Hunt for Red October.”
The film chronicles (with all the adoration and
attention to pointless detail of Dad’s home movies) the
physical and spiritual seven-year journey of Austrian
mountain climber Heinrich Harrer (Brad Pitt).
Sponsored nationally, Harrer is a member of an
elite team of mountain climbers sent to the Indian
Himalayas to conquer a mountain that has claimed the
lives of eleven Germans and rebuked die attempts of
four previous expeditions. The achievement of the
summit is “a matter of national pride,” explains Harrer.
Meanwhile, World War II has erupted in Europe,
and when Harrer’s expedition fails, the mountaineers
are arrested as prisoners of war by British soldiers.
French director Jean-Jacques Annaud goes to
great lengths to portray Harrer as an egotistical
S.O.B. whose relentless concentration on self
aggrandizement and personal victories lead him to
abandon his pregnant and heartbroken wife to ful
fill his personal dream of climbing the Himalayan
mountain. With his team of mountain climbers,
Harrer acts in a similar fashion. He is sullen, self
ish, arrogant and surly, largely because he was not
chosen over fellow climber Peter Aufschnaiter as
the group’s leader.
life: “Seven Years in Tibet*
" Starr Brad Pitt, David Thewlis, Jamyang Jamtsho
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Rating: PG-13 (language, adult situation) •/
Five Words: “Tibet" is peak of redemption.
consequently, so does his performance. However,
he is always captivating on screen, and once the
viewer forgets his alleged ethnicity, Pitt’s perfor
mance flows much more easily.
After Pitt’s character is well established as an
individualist and consummate jerk, he is startled
onto the road of reevaluation by Peter, who master
minded their escape from the POW camp.
“No wonder you’re always alone,” Peter says.
“No one can stand your miserable company.”
From such fire are friendships forged, and the
two become inseparable companions as they decide
to ride out World War II by climbing through “the
roof of the world,” nearby Tibet.
In Tibet, they manage to penetrate the mountain
city/fortress of Lhasa, the national holy city. It is in
this city of worship that Harrer establishes a rela
tionship with the Dalai Lama that changes both of
their lives forever.
Harrer discovers his own humanity first through
Peter, and then through the young Dalai Lama. As a
tutor and father figure, Harrer allows himself to be
the father he was afraid to be with his own child.
Together the two form an understanding of two dif
ferent worlds and two different philosophies.
Based on Harrer’s autobioeranhical account.
“Seven Years in Tiber is
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Cliches can’t stifle ‘Brassed’
■ This film succeeds
when it focuses on its
emotional core and not
on its romantic subplot.
By Sean McCarthy
A struggling mining community
rests its hope on an amicable brass
band ensemble. Take “The
Commitments” and mesh it with
“Roger & Me,” and you’ve basically
got the premise of “Brassed Off.”
While director Mark Herman’s
script has plenty of underdog movie
cliches, the cast does a great job in
taking the audience on a familiar ride.
' In Yorkshire, a small English
community, a mining pit is on the
verge of being shut down by the gov
ernment. Some of the pit workers
also are members or tne urimley
For bandleader Danny (Pete
Postlethwaite), the band is the spirit of
the community and his identity.
Danny is so obsessed with the band
that he even encourages his poverty
stricken son, Phil (Stephen
Tompkinson), to buy a new trombone.
While the other band members
don’t share Danny’s drive, their
enthusiasm heightens when Gloria
(Tara Fitzgerald) takes a seat in the
band. Along with being the only
female member, she sits on the com
mittee threatening to shut down the
mining pit. To add to the conflict,
Gloria involves herself with band
member Andy (Ewan McGregor).
Coming off from the success of
“Trainspotting,” McGregor does
more than just be a box-office draw
in “Brassed Off.” In “Trainspotting,”
he was free to overdose on heroin, go
nuts during withdrawal and contem
plate betraying his friends. In this
film, he’s forced to play it subtle.
The relationship between Gloria
and Andy doesn’t carry much weight
in the film. They meet* they get
along, they break apart, and they
reconcile. The cliched relationship
between the two dulls “Brassed Off.”
Tompkinson’s character, Phil,
also has a great deal of cliches. Flat
broke and fighting off creditors, Phil
resorts to dressing up as a clown to
make extra money. It may be a nov
elty, but the pissed-off clown act has
all but worn out its potential
(remember “Shakes the Clown”?).
Postlethwaite’s performance as
Danny is outstanding; The scenes
where he is conducting seem like a
perfect chance to overact, but
Postlethwaite manages to be fiercely
passionate without being hammy.
Herman’s effectively portrays the
community’s feeling of anguish over
the pit closing. Everyone loses his or
her job, Phil loses his family and
house, and Andy collapses.
What’s a town to do? Get the
band fired up, win the big competi
tion and the government’s respect,
and re-open the pit!
Luckily, Herman realizes things
are not that simple. Though everyone
puts differences aside and travels to
London to win the championship, no
performance will return the job.
The movie works well only when
focusing ortPostlethwaite’s perfor
mance, and the anguish the characters
suffer when they lose their jobs. The
emotional resonance of die two carries
the movie beyond the formulaic plot.
Also, the musical score is outstanding.
Playing at the Mary Riepma
Ross Film Theater Thursday through
Sunday, the movie costs $5 for stu
dents; $4 for members of die theater,
seniors and children; and $6 for all
„ Photo courtesy of Miramax Films
IN BRASSED OFF,” Tara Fitzgerald and Ewan McGregor play out their
hearts at a London band competition.
Booth s brother
By Liza Holtmeier
Actor Edwin Booth was so upset
when his brother assassinated
President Abraham Lincoln that he
retired from per
In April 1888,
Edwin came to
Lincoln, the news
ignored the conditions of his perfor
mance,” said Marvin Carlson, a the
ater professor at the City University
of New York. “There is a kind of dark
irony. It adds an interesting dimen
sion to the event.”
Tonight, Carlson will lecture on
Booth’s Lincoln performarifee in
“Booth, Lincoln and Theatrical
Reception.” The 7 p.m. speech will be
in the Mary Riepma Ross Theater in
the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery.
“(The lecture) is a kind of a gen
eral study of that particular occasion
and what the event meant to the lives
of Midwesterners,” Carlson said.
“There’s nothing like die excitement
of a great performance. It’s important
to understand what that kind of cul
tural event meant in those times.”
The lecture also covers how the
superstar status of actors and per
formers in the 1800s has become
more prevalent in the 20th century.
“The reputation of actors precedes
them, and we are conditioned by that,”
said William Grange, University of
Nebraska-Lincoln associate professor
of theater arts and dance.
“Whether it’s Booth and
Shakespeare or Garth Brooks and
country music, performers are able to
attract a huge following. The ques
tion is, how does that affect our per
ception of the actual performance?” ?
Edwin Booth was considered one
of the last great U.S. actors before the
advent of motion pictures. His career
spanned 42 years, and his Lincoln
performance was part of a national
tour with Lawrence Barrett that last
ed from 1886 to 1889.
me idea tor Carlson s lecture
stemmed from a portrait of Booth
hanging in the Sheldon gallery.
Carlson remembered that Booth
toured through Lincoln, and he decid
ed to expand the context of that event
to include the icon status of actors.
To research the topic, Carlson
searched through the archives of
“The Player’s Club,” an actors group
Booth established and of which
Carlson is a member. He found infor
mation about the tour as well as
reviews of various performances.
In addition to his lecture experi
ence, Carlson has published a num
ber of books on performance and the
ater theory. He won a Guggenheim
Fellowship in 1968 and the George
Jean Nathan Award - the highest
award given for theater criticism in
the United States - in 1994.
His lecture is part of the Geske
Lectureship in the liistory of Arts.
Norman and Jane Geske established
the lectureship in 1995. Carlson is the
third speaker sponsored by the series
and the first to lecture on theater.
The lecture, which is free and
open to the public, will be followed
by a reception in Sheldon’s Great
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