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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

‘The Lady’, A Film About the Life of Aung San Suu Kyi

December 14, 2011
Writer_Mollie Tearne When I first heard that there was a film coming out about the life of Aung San Suu Kyi I thought this could only be positive. A figurehead for freedom and equality, she has been and continues to be a heroine to many. As Burma’s pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate, her words…

Writer_Mollie Tearne
Michelle Yeoh as Aung San Suu Kyi

When I first heard that there was a film coming out about the life of Aung San Suu Kyi I thought this could only be positive. A figurehead for freedom and equality, she has been and continues to be a heroine to many. As Burma’s pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate, her words are an inspiration and comfort to those suffering at the hands of unjust governance. Throughout the long years of her protest the face of Aung San Suu Kyi has been the face of the fight against a tyrannical regime, a face that represents hope for the thousands of Burmese struggling against brutal conditions of this terrible junta.

Taking it upon herself to stand up for the rights of her native Burmese people, Aung Suu Kyi has sacrificed her freedom in an extraordinary campaign for democracy. She has spent over 15 years under house arrest and has had many attempts on her life. Despite all of this, however, she has consistently refused to return to England knowing that thiswould mean she would be denied re-entry into Burma. Her fight against Burma’s corruption would thus be foiled and the dictatorship would have won. A truly remarkable woman.

Imagine my disappointment then, when I read the press release for a film about her life, entitled ‘The Lady’. According to its Press Release this film takes the form of a love story, its main focus being the supposedly ‘problematic’ long distance relationship between Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma and her husband in Oxford. Directed by Luc Besson, known best for ‘The Fifth Element’ it is a film made to entertain, not inform. Its concentration on her personal life, however, I find rather disturbing. I for one feel it is none of our business exploring the details of her personal affairs. Not only does this focus appear to endorse the false values of celebrity culture – a wish to know the intimate details of those in the public eye – but it has the potential to completely over shadow the campaign to which she has devoted her life.

As the president of the Goldsmith’s Amnesty society, I feel there is a need for a greater awareness of human rights abuses around the world. It is all too easy to ignore the struggle of others when it is out of sight in a place unknown. It was with the support of Amnesty International that Aung San Suu Kyi was released, among many other prisoners of conscience and politics. I do hope that like Amnesty, Luc Besson’s film will bring the right for freedom and equality to our attention and inspire others to take an interest in our global community. ‘The Lady’ could have the potential to highlight the importance of taking peaceful action in the face of adversity. Unlike the usual box office stars this remarkable woman is absolutely worthy of our attention and admiration. It is with apprehension, however, that I will view the film, fearing that Besson has succumbed to the public desire for sensationalist drama.