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Saravuth: Pous Troung On Tov (Hear my wish, Cambodia 1970) Review

October 24, 2009

Hear my wish

Hear my wish

Pous Troung On Tov (Hear my wish, Cambodia 1970) by Saravuth, presented during the Golden Reawakening exhibition on the “Golden Age of Khmer Cinema” in the 1960s and 70s at the Chinese House in Phnom Penh, is a melodrama that pulls all stops. It has numerous sadistic beatings, rape, murder, infidelity, incest, a women drugged and forced into prostitution and every other perfidy that you can think of.

The romance of village beauty Kolap (Rath Mony) and rich boy Chaut (Kong Sam Oeun) is broken up by his ruthless mother (who in the process beats her mother to death). Kolap goes to Phnom Penh to find her father, but runs into bad company that first drug her (by blowing smoke from a joint in her face!), rape her and then sell her to a brothel.

After being forced into submission with a sex drug, she becomes very successful as a prostitute (interestingly her first client is a Chinese business man, who keeps calling out “Amui” while undressing) and eventually makes so much money that she can buy her freedom from her madame. She opens a shop for European fashion, finds another lover, who betrays here, and then starts an affair with an older man, who turns out to be her father! After dad realizes the mix-up, he looks for Chaut, her first love, and arranges their marriage, but not before Kolap finds out about his true identity.

Despite the fact that this is one of the few movies from that period that is still available on DVD, the print is painfully bad. The many scenes that were shot in the streets of Phnom Penh are almost impossible to read, and so one can only guess that shooting locations must have included the park next to the Independence Monument, Norodom Boulevard, the river side, maybe Wat Phnom, and the National Theatre by architect Vann Molivann, that burned down in the 1990s.

Pous troung aun tov

Pous troung aun tov

Nevertheless, it is clear that – like in A Time to Cry – director Saravuth tries to show a modern, affluent Cambodia with trendy villas with swimming pools, French cars, Hollywood swings and people in the latest trendy fashion with wrap-around glasses and t-shirts with paisley pattern who sip Coca Cola.The soundtrack, as eclectic as with all of these movies, is also suprisingly international. I think I heard some Curtis Mayfield there…

As in Sovannahong, the movie subjects its female heroin to any humiliation and depravedness one can think of. More research is needed to understand, whether this was some proto-feminist statement by the filmmakers (even though the appeasing end – a marriage – seems to suggest otherwise), or wether people simply found this type of stuff entertaining at that time…

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