Welcome to the ICM Forum. If you have an account but have trouble logging in, or have other questions, see THIS THREAD.
Podcast: Talking Images (Episode 22 released November 17th * EXCLUSIVE * We Are Mentioned in a Book!!! Interview with Mary Guillermin on Rapture, JG & More)
4th ICM Film Festival Main Thread (Fest is Nov16-Dec14)
Polls: 1966 (Results), Silents (Nov 29th), 1944 (Dec 18th)
Challenges: Noir, Mexico, Unofficial
Film of the Week: L'eau froide, December nominations (Nov 27th)
World Cup S4: Final: Germany vs Poland (Dec 1st)

S21, la machine de mort khmère rouge AKA S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2003) FotW #356

Post Reply
User avatar
Cocoa
Donator
Posts: 1966
Joined: Jul 17, 2013
Location: Chicago, USA
Contact:

S21, la machine de mort khmère rouge AKA S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2003) FotW #356

#1

Post by Cocoa » October 25th, 2020, 2:14 pm

Film of the Week #356: S21, la machine de mort khmère rouge AKA S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2003)

Image

Summary:
A unique documentary on the notorious S-21 prison, today the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with testimony by the only surviving prisoners and former Khmer Rouge guards.

#715 on 1000<400, with 196 checks.
Nominated by blocho, joachimt, and Melvelet.
On IMDb
On iCM

From the 1000<400 resultsShow
#715(⇧37, #752) S21, la machine de mort khmère rouge (2003)
[S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine]

Image
Directed by: Rithy Panh
(237.24 Pts, 6 Votes) , Top 1–10–50: 0–0–2
History: 71575279352411831254NA←NA
ICheckMovies: 195 Checks , 13 Favourites , 5 Official lists
List of Voters:Show
PeacefulAnarchy (11)
Teproc (28)
max-scl (NA)
cayh (120)
hurluberlu (221)
bal3x (435)

This movie fits the current Southeast Asia Challenge.



Here is a schedule of all the FotWs.

blocho
Donator
Posts: 3817
Joined: Jul 20, 2014
Contact:

#2

Post by blocho » October 31st, 2020, 8:02 am

In the early 2000s, an elderly man arrives at S-21, also known as Tuol Sleng, the infamous Phnom Penh prison of the Khmer Rouge. His name is Vann Nath, and he is returning to the site of his imprisonment and torture, which has now become a museum. He is a rare specimen, one of only seven prisoners to survive Tuol Sleng. The other 17,000 were murdered. Vann Nath survived because he could paint, but he points out that there were other prisoners who could paint, some of them more talented than him. For whatever reason, prison commandant Duch, whose long and horrific life ended only earlier this year, liked his painting best. Nath is soon joined by several former S-21 guards. I won't add any more details about what unfolds during their discussions, but there are moments that are alternately tragic, baffling, and inexplicable. And in many ways, what isn't said and what doesn't happen during these encounters are just as fascinating as what is said and what does happen.

I visited Tuol Sleng in 2009. It's not a particularly informative museum. The main focus is the structure itself (a high school that was repurposed as a prison) and the thousands of photos of the people who were murdered there. The sense of tragedy was overwhelming, but I was left wondering whether a building carried some essence of the evil that was done within its walls. And this notion served only to highlight the difficulty of bridging the gap between past and present. I never figured out an answer.

User avatar
sol
Donator
Posts: 10128
Joined: Feb 03, 2017
Location: Perth, WA, Australia
Contact:

#3

Post by sol » October 31st, 2020, 9:16 am

My interest while watching this documentary waxed and waned throughout. I haven't seen The Acting of Killing, which many seem to like comparing it to, but I thought the whole idea of getting both the guards and ex-prisoners to revisit the prison was great. Really chilling watching the guards reenact their daily routines, right down to insults and threats they would make. As someone with only a passing knowledge of the Khmer Rouge though, I guess I expected the film to dig deeper and provide more background and context, which it didn't. There instead seem to be a lot of repeating of the same sorts of indoctrination practices, how they were made to think of the prisoners as animals and so on. I would have also liked the documentary to explore more how young and impressionable the guards were at the time. There seems a wealth to consider in terms of getting teenagers (I believe one said they were as young as 13) rather than full grown adults to carry out such horrors. But yeah, this was pretty good overall and definitely miles better than most of the horror claptrap that I have subjected myself to this month as part of the SE Asia Challenge. Real Horror trumps Asian Ghost Stories.
Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
Image Image Image

blocho
Donator
Posts: 3817
Joined: Jul 20, 2014
Contact:

#4

Post by blocho » October 31st, 2020, 2:32 pm

sol wrote:
October 31st, 2020, 9:16 am
My interest while watching this documentary waxed and waned throughout. I haven't seen The Acting of Killing, which many seem to like comparing it to, but I thought the whole idea of getting both the guards and ex-prisoners to revisit the prison was great. Really chilling watching the guards reenact their daily routines, right down to insults and threats they would make. As someone with only a passing knowledge of the Khmer Rouge though, I guess I expected the film to dig deeper and provide more background and context, which it didn't. There instead seem to be a lot of repeating of the same sorts of indoctrination practices, how they were made to think of the prisoners as animals and so on. I would have also liked the documentary to explore more how young and impressionable the guards were at the time. There seems a wealth to consider in terms of getting teenagers (I believe one said they were as young as 13) rather than full grown adults to carry out such horrors. But yeah, this was pretty good overall and definitely miles better than most of the horror claptrap that I have subjected myself to this month as part of the SE Asia Challenge. Real Horror trumps Asian Ghost Stories.
Sol, I think you make some great points about the movie. Like you, I found my interest wandering at times because the movie had some repetitive elements, especially the pantomimed re-enactments one of the guards offers of his treatment of the prisoners. But I found some of those repetitive elements very telling, like the emphasis the guards made on their indoctrination. They seemed unwilling or perhaps unable at many times to emotionally engage with what they experienced.

Post Reply