For more than sixty years, Cambodia has been personified by Norodom Sihanouk. Throughout his life, he has played roles as King, Prime Minister, Prince, Head of State for Life, Exile, and Prisoner. THE NINE LIVES OF NORODOM SIHANOUK chronicles his remarkable life story, which is inextricable from the modern history of Cambodia.
Appointed King in 1941, when the nation was still part of French Indochina, Sihanouk helped win the country's independence in 1953, and played capitalist and communist superpowers off one another during Cambodia's golden age of neutrality.
During the Sixties, however, Sihanouk increasingly became victim of international pressures. The Vietnam War spilled over Cambodia's borders, leading to a civil war, a coup d'etat, and Sihanouk's misbegotten alliance with Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. Following years of exile, Sihanouk returned to Cambodia in 1991, regaining his title as King.
Using archival footage and contemporary interviews with Sihanouk's former colleagues and political opponents, eyewitnesses, journalists and historians, including Jean Lacouture, David Chandler, Patrice De Beer, Jacques Bekaert, and John Gunther Dean, former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, THE NINE LIVES OF NORODOM SIHANOUK tells the story of this controversial political leader whose country became the "killing fields" for one of the greatest human tragedies of the 20th century.
"Nourished by rich eyewitness accounts and based on solid archival work. A historical and geopolitical lesson more than the portrait of an outmoded monarch, at once odious and fascinating." —Télérama
"The film successfully paints a picture of a peasantry supplicant to the authority of whichever strongman used the technology of the day to subjugate and exploit. ...Well-made films like this one by Giles Cayatte...are necessary to remind the mindful and knowledgeable of politics and the consequences of the corruption of democratic resolve by our various leaders." —Leonardo Reviews
"A fascinating and often-critical analysis of Sihanouk’s remarkable life...both riveting and disturbing." —Education About Asia