(Feature) – Hollywood is taking on the heroic story of Aung San Suu Kyi, aiming to present the personal face of the Burmese democracy icon.
“The Lady” directed by Luc Besson takes on the true story of Burmese pro-democracy activist, leader and political prisoner Suu Kyi, played by Michelle Yeoh, and the tenacious long-distance bond she maintained with her British husband, Michael Aris, played by David Thewlis, while under house arrest for over a decade.
“The Lady” is set for a gala screening at the Toronto Film Festival on Setember 12, 13 and 17, and the International Rome Film Festival which runs from October 27 to November 4. The movie is then due for general release worldwide—though, not surprisingly, Rangoon movie theatres will not be screening it.
French writer, director and producer Besson, 52, is known for his work with Subway (85), The Big Blue (88), Nikita (90), Léon: The Professional (94), The Fifth Element (97), Joan of Arc (99), Angel-A (05) and The Lady.
Besson, 52, a writer, director and producer, is considered to be one of the world’s ambitious craftsmen of large-scale cinematic entertainment.
According to publicity for the film, “The Lady” is a love story about Suu Kyi and her late British husband and details their long separation while Suu Kyi was detained in 1989.
As the film press release explains, the film “will chart her remarkable journey from housewife bringing up her children in Oxford to taking on the power of Burma's generals by becoming opposition leader.”
In 1988, Aung San Suu Kyi returned to her native Burma from Oxford, where she had lived for many years. Her visit was prompted by news of her mother’s dete¬riorating health, but the country was in an uproar. Burma’s military leader, General Ne Win, stepped down, and protestors quickly filled the streets of Rangoon to demand democratic reform. Those protestors were beaten and their message suppressed. The charismatic and politically engaged Suu Kyi, whose father Aung San was a martyr for Burmese inde-pendence, found herself called upon to lead Burma out from under the shadow of mili¬tary dictatorship as the general-secretary of the newly formed National League for Democracy. In 1990, a general election was held and the NLD won, but Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest by the military junta. She remained a prisoner in her own home for most of the next 15 years.
According to the press release, “The Lady” was filmed largely in Thailand and Burma, whose beautiful cities, fecund jungles and diverse cultures fill the screen with dynamic colour and rich detail. It tells the story of Suu Kyi’s triumph and tragedy.
In the words of the press release: “Michelle Yeoh eloquently embodies Suu Kyi’s tranquil defiance and wisdom — yet her political struggle is only half of the story. Played with great tenderness by David Thewlis, Michael Aris was Suu Kyi’s British husband and tireless advocate, and he is the film’s second protagonist. Through the months and years, he and Suu Kyi were unable to see one another. Aris worked to raise awareness of injustice in Burma and campaigned for his wife’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize (which she won, though she was unable to accept it in person), all the while suffering her absence, struggling with his own illness, (cancer), and trying his best to be a good father to their two sons.”
By 1999, Aris was terminally ill but his wife was unwilling to leave Burma to be with her husband as she feared she would not be allowed to reenter the country. He died on March 27, at age 53.
At once epic and intimate, disturbing and galvanizing, the story celebrates the struggle of a people and the difference that a single strong-willed individual can make in the world, according to the release.
"I was deeply inspired and touched by Aung San Suu Kyi's personal story and ongoing fight for democracy, and hope that through this film her cause and voice will be better known and shared," said Besson in the festival's announcement, according to Reuters.
Authorities in Burma blacklisted Yeoh for her role in the film and deported her when she flew into the country in June, although she had been able to visit earlier and meet with Suu Kyi. The Malaysian actress, who regularly performs her own stunts in action movies, is best known for playing Chinese spy Wai Lin alongside Pierce Brosnan in the 1997 James Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies," according to Reuters.
|Release Date:||September 2011||Cast:|
|Language:||English||Aung San Suu Kyi .... Michelle Yeoh|
|Production Companies:||EuropaCorp, Left Bank Pictures, France 2 Cinema||Michael Aris .... David Thewlis|
|Producers:||Virginie Silla, Andy Harries, Jean Todt||Rest listed in alphabetic order:|
|Director:||Luc Besson||.... Alex Barclay|
|Screenplay:||Rebecca Frayn||Military officer .... Aung Kyaw|
|Cinematographer:||Thierry Arbogast||Aide of Aung San Suu Kyi .... Daw Myint|
|Music:||Eric Serra||Nita May .... Dujdao Vadhanapakorn|
|Costume Design:||Olivier Beriot||Military officer .... Khin Maung Yin|
|Editor:||Julien Rey||Daw Khin Yi .... Marian Yu|
|Sound:||Ken Yasumoto, Didier Lozaic||Aide of Aung San Suu Kyi .... Mon Mon|
|Production Designer:||Hugues Tissandier||Win Thein .... Nay Myo Thant|
|Category:||Drama / Romance / Biopic||Leo Nichols .... Sahajak Boonthanakit|
|Countries:||France, U.K.||Soldier .... Teerawat Mulvilai|
|Filming:||October 2010 - January 2011||Than Shwe .... U Agga|
|Filming Locations:||Thailand, England, France, Burma||Victoria Sanvalli .... Ma Then|
|Running Time:||145 minutes||James Baker .... William Hope|