KATHMANDU: Recently Aung San Suu Kyi made news by debuting in parliament and that was the closure of one circle for her. She said at that time, “I’ve always been cautiously optimistic about developments in politics.” Working with the military junta that had imprisoned her she said, “I’ve tremendous goodwill towards the military. It doesn’t in any way bother me to sit with them.”
A brief synopsis on the French-English co-production, The Lady, directed by Luc Besson had mixed reviews. The plot is simple.
In 1947, when Aung San Suu Kyi is two years old, her father Aung San leads Burma to independence. But soon afterwards, on July 19, 1947, he along with a group of his colleagues is assassinated by a military death squad.
As an adult she goes to England, finds a loving husband and has a happy family life. But in 1988 her mother’s poor health forces her to return to Burma where her father, is still widely remembered.
When she visits her mother in hospital in 1988, she meets many of the people wounded during the Tatmadaw’s crackdown in the 8888 Uprising. She realises that political change is needed in Burma and is soon drawn into the movement to promote reform. She accepts the role of icon in support of self-determination by the Burmese people and devotes herself to activities in support of goals of greater political freedoms.
Suu Kyi founds a political party and clearly wins the 1990 elections. However, the Burmese military refuse to accept the result of the election and moved to bring Suu Kyi under control. She and her family became separated when her husband and children were banned from Burma and she was put under a house arrest for more than a decade. Yet their relentless struggling for Suu Kyi’s recognition outside Burma is her guarantee she won’t be forgotten and cannot disappear unnoticed.
Due to her family’s efforts, she becomes the first woman in Asia to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet their separation continues because neither can Suu Kyi attend the ceremony nor can her husband Michael Aris see her one last time before his early death.
Critic Roger Ebert in the LA Times has said that he would have liked to see Mira Nair or Deepa Mehta directed The Lady.
My friend Kunda Dixit said that the production values were scrappy and that Michelle Yeoh looks like she was about to burst into a kung-fu dance.
Not true. If anything Yeoh was as graceful as a figurine from the ancient days in Myanmar.
I think most people viewed The Lady as a turbulent political story set against an impossible love story. One that will gain mythic proportions all over the world. Yeoh agrees describing the film as an incredible love story against the background of political turmoil.
For me what proved to be wrenching was how the husband and wife separated by an ocean who worked together. He was instrumental in helping her get the Noble Peace Prize by prompting a member close to the committee that it would keep her safe.
When awarded, the Lady was under House Arrest (which went on for 10 years) and the only news Suu Kyi had was through a radio and the time she’s seen being impatient is when her maid brings the radio to her on the day she’s to receive the Noble Peace Prize and her two sons are made to accept by their professor father Michael Aris.
Personally, I hope Luc Besson and Michelle Yeoh do more movies together.