Sunday, July 1, 2007

Rice People (1994) Rithy Pan

The special features has a nice interview with Rithy Pan.
A poor, rural Cambodian family slowly disintegrates during the cycle of a single rice crop in this moving, and beautifully photographed European drama adapted from a novel by Shahnon Ahmad. Pouev, his wife Om, and his seven children, live in a small rural village in Cambodia. Their whole precarious life depends upon the success of their rice crop. Both husband and wife are worried, but for different reasons. Pouev is concerned because their acreage is shrinking. Om worries about Pouev; what would happen to her and the children if he died or was injured? Her worst fear is manifest after Pouev steps upon a poisoned thorn and dies. Om finds herself heavily burdened with the responsibilities of maintaining the crop and caring for seven youngsters. She suffers paranoia from worrying about whether the children are doing their share and the other villagers lock her up leaving eldest daughter Sokha to bring in the crop. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide

Yes the father worries about his 14 lots being divided between his 7 daughters and grandchildren and maybe handfuls of rice for his great-grandchildren...

They find a cobra and the elder tells everyone to go and search for the female to kill or no planting can happen. They get a crab infestation-seemed like a perfect time for a feast. They caught 1000s.

The sexism of their culture clearly comes out when the mother has drinks with some of the local young men. They want her to give away her oldest daughter/the strongest worker of the daughters. And the constant antagonism from locals helped push her unstable personality over the edge. Even when the she saw the snake earlier she fainted and was out for a long time and then needed a day of rest to get over it. From the break down they lock her in a bamboo cage.

Bird of separation: Owl. When the house was visited by an owl the father died.

This is an amazing film for the depth of showing how the rice fields are maintained and how they are so labor intensive. But I still have to say that I rated this as 2.5 since a lack of how this changed and was affected by the Khmer Rouge as was implicated in the interview with director.

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