The Horse Thief

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The Horse Thief
Traditional 盜馬賊
Simplified 盗马贼
Mandarin Dào mǎ zéi
Directed by Tian Zhuangzhuang
Produced by Wu Tianming
Written by Zhang Rui
Music by Qu Xiaosong
Cinematography Hou Yong
Zhao Fei
Release date
  • 1986 (1986)
Running time
88 minutes
Country China
Language Mandarin

The Horse Thief is a 1986 Chinese film by director, Tian Zhuangzhuang. It follows one of Tian's favorite topics, Chinese minorities, a topic he touched upon in 1984's On the Hunting Ground and would return to in 2004's documentary, Delamu. Like these other films, The Horse Thief shows Tian's fascination with China's ethnic minorities, and in particular the Buddhist ceremonies that these peoples practice.

Film director Martin Scorsese listed the film (which was not widely released in the United States until the 1990s) as his favourite from the 1990s on the television show Roger Ebert & the Movies.[1] The Horse Thief was produced by the Xi'an Film Studio.


The film follows the titular horse thief, Norbu as he struggles to support his family in Tibet. After his son dies, however, Norbu strives to change his ways. Mirroring the starkness of the landscape, the film is nearly free of dialogue, with only the occasional terse exchange between characters.


  1. ^ Ebert & Roeper (2000-02-27), Best Films of the 90s, retrieved 2007-11-07 

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