Copyright 2001

[ June 15th 2001 ]

As Paramount Pictures Lara Croft: Tomb Raider motion picture opens across the United States to a mixed bag of reviews, the New York Post reports on critisism made by the Cambodian government over the portayal of their country:

CAMBODIANS are fuming over their portrayal in "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" as straw hat-wearing Vietnamese peasants who toil away in paddy fields. Cambodian officials tried to explain that black pajamas and pointy straw hats are as culturally inappropriate as sombreros in Los Angeles or kilts on New York's Fifth Avenue. The movie "showed little awareness or sensitivity to the reality of modern Cambodia," complained the Phnom Penh Post, which also said the image of the holy Temple of Angkor Wat may never recover from being made the setting of Lara Croft's adventures.

"Tomb Raider" producers fought hard to win permission to shoot scenes of Lara Croft's first movie adventure at the 800-year-old temple, the world's largest religious structure and Cambodia's greatest cultural treasure. The only stipulations were no fighting or gunfire inside. In exchange, producers had an army of engineers repair a Pol Pot-holed road from Thailand and replenish the temple's dried-up moats, and fork over $10,000 for every day of shooting. But when Cambodian extras were hired to populate the village beneath the temple, they were given traditional Vietnamese costumes - right down to the pointy hats.

Cambodians were especially insulted, given their bitter history with their neighbor, which invaded Cambodia in 1979. Cambodians ought to get used to battling Hollywood. More films are on the way for the strife-torn country, where extras get paid as little as $5 a day.

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