90 MINUTES | Cambodian |
THE PEOPLE OF ANGKOR
One may never fully know today, here in the ascendant West, how perplexing and puzzling it is to know your culture is no longer the great civilization that it once was, but Rithy Panh's film about the people who love and work in and around the temples of Angkor affords an empathetic insight that only an accomplished work of art can give. Droll, sharp observations, sometimes of dubious accuracy, form a lattice of exchanges between the people of the paddies as the Angkor Khmer, the People of Angkor, ponder the deep issues of their life, culture and history. It is the very whimsy and poignancy of their conversations, whether about the marketing savvy of a young peddler of tourist tchotchkes, the fate of a fighting rooster called Lemon Soup, or the Buddhist monks who meditate among the ruins, that make us realize some stunning essential truths about life in Cambodia today. It is only appropriate that as the filmmaker allows us to listen in on these gently humorous encounters, we catch occasional glimpses of camera-toting tourists in the background, and we realize that the personal stories tower above any great monument.