Copyright 2000

[ September 2nd 2000 ]

Cambodia's fabled Angkor Wat temple complex may take center stage in a new Hollywood movie based on the popular Tomb Raider video game and starring actress Angelina Jolie, according to a report today. Jolie and a 250-strong crew from Paramount Pictures could arrive as soon as next month in the northern town of Siem Reap to begin filming at the 9th-12th century temples surrounded by jungle, the Phnom Penh Post newspaper said. "Officially there is not yet any agreement, but I hope that the filming can take place," said Ang Choulean, who is spokesman for the Apsara Authority which oversees conservation at the world heritage site.

A Paramount Pictures UK statement said the movie would be filmed in Cambodia and Iceland, while studio shooting was already underway at Pinewood Studios in England where Jolie was learning lines for a Khmer-language sequence. The film is based on the Tomb Raiders video game where Lara Croft - a female version of the popular Indiana Jones action hero - navigates the passageways of a virtual temple complex in search of treasure. Paramount reportedly said Jolie was on a strict training regimen of "gymnastics, bungee jumping, kickboxing, weight training and the use of machine guns."

"To tell the truth, we would have preferred a romantic film ... we don't want to give the world an image of Angkor as a tomb," said Choulean. "They have assured me that this film will have no blood or violence, only some guns." Angkor Wat was last used as a major film location for the 1964 classic Lord Jim starring Peter O'Toole. During most of the past three decades the temples were all but unreachable due to the Khmer Rouge insurgency.

Angkor Wat was constructed under King Suryavarman II (reigned 1113-1150) to celebrate the king as the incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. The greatest of the Angkor temple complexes is a masterpiece of classic Khmer architecture The temple area is more than two square miles big and surrounded by a 500 foot wide moat. Dedicated to Shiva and Jayavarman VII, Angkor Wat served as the king's funerary temple. s The temple is unique amongst the temples at Angkor for its west facing facade, acknowledging the setting sun and the symbolic passage from life to afterlife.

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