Kundun is a 1997 epic biographical film written by Melissa Mathison and directed by Academy Award Winner Martin Scorsese. It is based on the life and writings of the 14th Dalai Lama, the exiled political and spiritual leader of Tibet.
The project began when screenwriter Melissa Mathison, whose best-known work was E.T., met with the Dalai Lama and asked him if she could write about his life. He gave her his blessing and his time, sitting for interviews that became the basis of her script.
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.
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