Thursday, August 8, 2013

Distinctive and effective

A scene from The Missing Picture
After a few false starts, I manged to watch the award-winning The Missing Picture at Bophana Center tonight and I found that the use of small clay figurines to portray the story of director Rithy Panh's life in workcamps under the Khmer Rouge certainly worked for me. It was very powerful and unconventional, which gave the film a very distinctive character of its own, interlaced with black and white archival propaganda footage. I wasn't convinced by the subtitles, which were distracting and would've preferred the voice-over in English, but I would, wouldn't I. That aside, it was a unique way to tell his story and to fill in for what Panh sees as the real missing picture of what happened in the camps. The death of his father, who deliberately chose to stop eating, as well as his siblings focused us on the director's own suffering and telling the story with the hand-carved and painted figures allowed a greater degree of latitude to do that. There were no actors to direct, just the tiny static figures and the narration. Simple but incredibly effective.

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