The film opens with the search for the 14th incarnation of the Dalai Lama. After a vision of Reting, the regent of Tibet, a number of lamas disguised as servants find a candidate who shows promise: a child born to farmers in the countryside. They give the child a test. He must select from assorted items the ones belonging to the former Dalai Lama. The child passes, and he is brought to Lhasa, where he will be inaugurated as Dalai Lama when he comes of age. On their way to Llasa, Reting tells the child about the first Dalai Lama, Kundun. Over time, the boy matures in age and learning. After a brief power struggle, the boy becomes the 14th Dalai Lama and starts taking an active role in governing and religious leadership.
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Meanwhile, the Chinese Communists, who recently came to power in their country, declare Tibet to be a part of the old Imperial China. They state their wish to reintegrate Tibet with the newly established People's Republic of China. Despite Tibet's numerous pleas to the international community for intervention, Chinese forces invade Tibet. In light of a series of barbarities experienced by his people, the Dalai Lama meets with Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing. Initially Mao expresses favorable opinions on the sovereignty of the Tibetan people, but relations deteriorate quickly. When the Dalai Lama returns to Tibet, he hears about more atrocities suffered by his people. The Tibetans have now renounced their treaty with China and started a guerrilla war against the Chinese.
When the Chinese proclaim their intention of killing him, the Dalai Lama flees to India. Disguised the Dalai Lama and his staff slip out of Lhasa under cover of the night. Throughout their journey pursued by the Chinese, eventually the group makes it to a mountain pass at the Indian border and his new home. The film ends with title cards containing the lines: The Dalai Lama has not yet returned to Tibet. He hopes one day to make the journey.
Best part of story, including ending:
It's an account of the Tibetan tragedy.
Best scene in story:
Where the child chooses the right objects and is proclaimed to be the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.
Opinion about the main character:
He is a historical figure alive today fighting for a free Tibet.