Wednesday, 16 October 2013


There is no end to suffering. The Khmer Rouge may be long gone from Cambodia, but they are not so long gone from the souls of those whose lives they changed forever, damaged irreparably. Rithy Panh remembers every detail, but is there beauty and art in his recollection, and its recreation in this undeniably beautiful film, or is this just therapy? Either way, it's immensely moving, in fact from the very first moments to the very last. The clay figurines which Panh utilises to supply that missing picture, that of the true emotion that did not reach beyond Cambodia's borders, are borne out of the same earth as the victims of Pol Pot's regime disappeared into, and are profoundly expressive, despite their simplicity. Indeed, their simplicity allows Panh to communicate his harrowing messages succinctly and uniquely. Set to a mournful score, the images Panh devises, in this context rendered anew, and the poetic narration possess supreme emotive strength. And what remains is not the emotion of hope, or anger, or joy, or sadness. It is grief, despair, suffering. The despondency and bitterness in Panh's tone and the pain it has so clearly caused him to make this film are palpable, and transmitted directly to the hearts and minds of the viewers through a minimum of devices, a testament to the power of sound and image, unadorned with technical wizardry. It's rather hard to imagine it, a film so steeped in the past having such an impact in the present. But then, surely it is about the present. That grief, that despair, that suffering live on today. There is no end to suffering.