Luc Besson hasn’t done much directing since 1997’s The Fifth Element, but he’s decided to come back with an ambitious piece, turning his back on the parade of action films that he’s been producing for the last decade or so. He’s instead turned to a biography of Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, starring Michelle Yeoh and titled The Lady
Suu Kyi’s life is a fantastic one to base a film upon. Only daughter of the general known as the father of the nation, a man assassinated by his rivals when she was only eight. Suu Kyi left Burma to study abroad, eventually earning a PhD from the University of London and marrying a British citizen. When she returned to visit her sick mother in 1988, the visit happened to coincide with mass demonstrations for democracy and a violent suppression by the military. Suu Kyi addressed a massive crowd, her first steps into politics. Despite having a life abroad, a husband and children, she stayed in Burma and although she didn’t stand for office, many assumed that she would be the chosen Prime Minister following the 1989 elections. The military junta refused to acknowledge the elections though and placed her under house arrest, a condition that would last for the next two decades.
The film has an additional angle that makes it so fascinating and tragic: the character of Suu Kyi’s husband, Alexander Aris. He was regularly denied entry visas into Burma in order to punish Suu Kyi and encourage her to give up and leave the country. When he died in 1997 of cancer, he had only seen his wife five times since her house arrest. The military encouraged her to leave once he was sick, but she refused. She would not let them win, even if it cost her any time left with her husband.
The film has already been finished and has gotten some rounds at film festivals, though a wider release date is still up in the air. Here’s the trailer: