Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Killing Fields

After a long and expensive day and night on Friday, we decided to say in last night, which had us watching a DVD at home. I chose The Killing Fields, which I hadn't seen since it came out in the 1980's, the Oscar winning film showing the terrors of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970's.

As a film it was a bit annoying, as it was very much focused on the relationship between an American journalist and his Cambodian colleague, with a lot of stereotyped scenes and music and melodrama. But nevertheless, through this constructon they did manage to cover the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime and bring this to the world's cinema audiences, most notably in a half hour section near the end of the film.

When I was in Cambodia in November I was very aware of the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime and the accompanying genocide. It was an eerie feeling. And yet, apart from the odd monument to the horrors such as the genocide museuem of Tuol Slng and various Killing Fields sites, there was not much evidence of what had happened.

I remember seeing scenes like this of a new generation of students, all dressed in uniform cycling to and from school, through the flat countryside and realising that these are the future of Cambodia. Their parents and grandparents may have known and experienced the horrors of the Khmer Rouge but this is not what really concerns their current lives and their futures. As far as I could tell the current generation of Cambodians are more concerned with ridding their country of the rampant corruption and favouritism than dwelling on the past.

Apparently, a film was recently made by well-meaning Americans about the Khmer Rouge period in Cambodia with the aim pof distributing this to the schools in Cambodia so the children can learn more about their recent history. Another American-made film has also been made about child prostitution, set in Phnom Penh (although the director said it could just as easily have been made in New York, Rio or Amsterdam - in which case, why did he NOT choose one of them?). I find it distasteful that foreigners should go to places like Cambodia and make films concentrating on the darker sides of that country's history or current state of affairs, sort of rubbing their noses in it, especially when there is enough to be dealing with in their own countries.

Anyway, I like the image of this photo of the new generation moving forward to the future ahead.


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