It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
It was impossible to watch the biopic "The Lady" without thinking of "They Call It Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain," a new documentary I saw a few weeks ago. Both are set in the once-enchanted land of Burma, which, like its neighbor India, was governed by British colonialism, and also like India suddenly received its independence in a disorderly fashion. In India, that led to the troublesome partition of Pakistan. In Burma, it led to democratic elections whose outcome was overthrown by assassination. As it was said at the time, "The British stayed too long and left too quickly."
The central figure in both films is the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, whose father, Aung San, was elected to head the country and then assassinated, leaving the nation to a long period of repressive dictatorship under a military junta. The daughter, always called Suu Kyi, fled after her father's death to England, where at Oxford, she married the professor Michael Aris, had two children, and settled down as a housewife. Burma during those years disappeared behind a curtain of secrecy and paranoia. Many Burmese remained in exile, because being "Westernized" might mean their imprisonment upon return.
Only the illness of her mother drew Suu Kyi back to Burma, for a personal visit that the uneasy generals were told was non-political. Once there, however, she was swept up in protests by the National League for Democracy and implored by students to join their cause. She agreed to address a gathering. It was not publicized, but the news passed from ear to ear and a huge crowd overwhelmed police efforts to contain it. Her fate was clear: She was destined to be a leader of the struggle.
She was then kept under house arrest for most of the next 15 years, even while winning the Nobel, and allowed to see her husband and children only a few times before he died of cancer back home in Oxford. This was a strong and stubborn woman — perhaps too stubborn, she once confessed to Michael — but it required an iron will to play her role. Only in recent weeks have open elections been permitted; her movement swept into power, and Suu Kyi is now a member of Parliament.