6 March 2000 | hugh_shanahan
Occasionally moving portrait of a war photographer
This is the story of a young Japanese photographer, Taizo Ichinose, who worked during the conflicts of Vietnam and Cambodia in the early 1970's. At the start of the movie, his only wish is to become a successful war photographer getting his photos on the front page of the New York Times etc.. He becomes increasingly obsessed with taking a photograph of Angkor Wat in North Eastern Cambodia, which was at that time held by the Khmer Rouge, initially as a means of acheiving the above, but it eventually becomes the goal itself. This is based on a true story, and I don't know what parts have been embellished but some of the elements of this movie has been well covered in other movies; battle scar'd war journalists, friendly locals, the outsider, the statutory beautiful Vietnamese woman etc. etc. Having said all that, I still enjoyed this movie, mostly because of Tadanobu Asano, who plays the lead role. He creates an intensely likable character; brave, genuine, curious (though not intrusive), intelligent, optimistic of human nature in the face of so much horror, able to learn and accept the diversity of the world. A hero for our time perhaps ? There's also some lovely shots of Angkor, which could be described as being to Asia what the Pyramids are to Africa.