Aung San Suu Kyi is a remarkable woman, a woman who has endured many years under house arrest while she protested against the unfairness of the political system in her homeland of Burma. As if house arrest and being left pretty much incommunicado wasn’t bad enough, this also meant that she spent years away from her English husband (who comes across here as a remarkable and remarkably supportive man) and her two children. But she was willing to endure this to support what she saw as the way forward for Burma. This documentary tells her story, with a mix of many talking heads and some archive footage.
I think that it’s important when reviewing movies to make sure that people know your level of understanding of the subject matter. Many people already know that if something is horror-orientated then I like to consider myself a bit of an expert until someone inevitably comes along who knows much more than I do. Horror is my forte. The history and political unrest in Burma is not. Thankfully, that understanding is not a requirement when viewing this documentary although, of course, it helps. In fact, unless I missed something major I’d have to say that this documentary doesn’t even go into much detail with regards to the Burmese situation. “Suu”, as she is often referred to, is the focus here and the situation is sketched out only in a way that relates to her and shows how it shaped most of her adult life.
Everyone discussing this remarkable woman onscreen seems to be, inevitably, in awe of her strength and a supporter of what lengths she went to in order to stand up for her beliefs and to try and instigate change but there are a few who at least voice the opinions of dissenters and show that they’re not just living in some idol-worshipping bubble. They may stand by the woman and her choices but they remain aware of the points that were thrown around by those who didn’t know her full situation and judged her simply as a wife who “abandoned” her husband and a mother who “abandoned” her children.
Personally, and I know I may invite many insults here, I can’t help being pulled in both directions at once. Aung San Suu Kyi really is quite a fascinating character, with intelligence and grace and compassion to spare, but I’m just not sure exactly how her own great sacrifice really helped, overall, with the situation in Burma. It kept things cropping up in the news, rather than dissipating and eventually being forgotten, but I’m just not sure that her approach was really the best one to take.
“Oh,” you may say, “well that’s easy for you to say while you sit there on your comfortable sofa in the United Kingdom and take numerous freedoms for granted”. And you’d be right. Yet I can’t help having my opinions and having those opinions affect my viewing of this documentary, which is why I have made room for them here.
DIRECTOR: ANNE GYRITHE BONNE
STARS: AUNG SAN SUU KYI
RUNTIME: 64 MINS APPROX