In 1947, the leader of the Burmese democracy, General Aung San, is brutally murdered along with others in his political party. Several decades later we meet his adult daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi (played by Michelle Yeoh) who is very happily married to her academic husband, Michael (by David Thewlis) and living in Oxford, England with their two sons Alex (by Jonathan Woodhouse) and Kim (by Jonathan Raggett). In Burma, Suu’s mother is suddenly taken ill and she returns to Rangoon to care for her. While she is there, Suu witnesses first-hand the brutal treatment meted out by the Burmese military junta to the people of Burma, particularly those who are open about their dissatisfaction with the political situtation. Although this brutality is done to frighten them and break their spirit, these “dissenters” still maintain strong support of Suu’s father and his ideals for a democratic Burma. Some loyal followers discover that she is in Rangoon and persuade her to take up their cause, so she agrees to lead the National League for Democracy. She participates avidly and strong support for the movement develops. As a result, she becomes the constant focus of the watchful eye of the military junta who are determined to silence her to stop this activity. This leads to years of restrictions of civil liberties, negative treatment and ultimately to long-term house arrest in Rangoon. Suu is frequently faced with the difficult choice between leaving Burma to rejoin her husband and family life in England, or working for her people and her deep belief in achieving democracy for Burma.
This film concentrates on the personal story of Aung Sang Suu Kyi and her relationship with her husband and her sons – rather than the political aspects of the story. It is truly compelling and although it seems long (at two hours), I didn’t mind that as I am ashamed to admit I didn’t know nearly enough about this extraordinary woman or her story. I was vaguely aware of her and her situation in Burma, but the events that are dramatised here are quite eye-opening. The lives of those in Burma and the cruelty and violence imposed on them is jaw-dropping. Also, I was amazed at this remarkable story of a person who has such a deep and strong belief in a cause that they will sacrifice their own health, wellbeing and happiness to achieve it. She is a truly awesomely strong and courageous, determined woman – supported by an equally determined, strong and devoted husband and family. The performances are marvellous – Michelle Yeoh is exquisite as the gentle but strong Suu and the portrayal of her husband Michael, by David Thewlis is very good indeed. It’s a good movie.
Made in 2012. Directed by Luc Besson