'Burma Soldier' provides a rare glimpse of a brutal dictatorship seen through the eyes of a courageous former soldier, who quite literally, swapped sides. The documentary offers an exclusive and rare perspective, from inside the heart and mind of a former Burmese soldier who lays bare an understanding of a brutal regime, and the political and psychological power of the junta over this country. Written by
This grim documentary taught me more about the secretive police state of Burma than anything else I'd ever stumbled upon.
Comprised mostly of footage smuggled out of the country, it provides glimpses of the threatening and ubiquitous Burmese military, sheds some light on life in tiny hamlets and urban centers, and hints at the beauty of a mist-cloaked, tropical landscape.
This is also one of the bleakest films I've ever seen.
The only on-screen speaker is the soft-spoken, solemn Myo Myint, who started out as a naive soldier with few other prospects, lost a leg and a hand in a mortar blast, and went on to protest the military that had thrust him into that precarious position. (We learn that for decades, the military has been battling ethnic minorities that seek autonomy in Burma. In the process, countless children have been forced into military service and women have been brutalized as porters and sex slaves.)
As punishment for his political activism, Myo Myint is thrown into prison. Inexplicably, after 15 years, he is let out one day. But when he fears he'll be arrested anew he flees to a refugee camp and eventually emigrates to Fort Wayne, Ind., home of the largest community of Burmese refugees in the United States.
Myo Myint's story is appalling, a relentlessly bleak testament to man's inhumanity to man. When we leave him, he is marveling at all the books in the Fort Wayne library. Somehow we sense he'll find a useful path for himself. Whether or when Burma will find its way is another question entirely.
This film accomplished its goal because now I care. Now, when I see Aun Saun Syu Kyi in the news, I'm sure I'll pay closer attention. Burma is suffering and Americans should help.
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