Cambodian movies have experienced a roller coaster ride in history. Find out about the ups and downs of the Cambodian cinema.
The cinema has long been a prominent part of the Cambodian culture. It was back in the 1950s that Cambodia stepped up its efforts in the world of movies. The next decade saw Cambodia rise to its zenith in the industry as that era is recorded in history as being the golden era of Cambodian cinema.
There came a twist of fate for the Cambodian cinema with the rise of the Khmer Rouge that came to power. With the rise of video and television came a decline in the cinema industry. Over the years the prominence of the cinema has declined in the face of the competition it has been receiving from the television and video media.
The initial years of Cambodian cinema revolved around the making of documentaries. The makers of these documentaries were however foreigners who came to the region to explore various parts of the Cambodian culture and geography.
By the 1950s the Cambodians began producing movies on their own. The early block of Cambodian film makers had come back to the country after having undergone training and education abroad. The first movies to be produced in the country were actually silent films. The Roeum Sopon, Sun Bun Ly and the Ieu Pannakar are amongst the old school classics of the time.
It is from here onwards that the Cambodian cinema developed into a flourishing industry. This was largely due to the U.S intervention in the form of training workshops and the supply of equipment that gave a boost to the art form in the country. One of the remembered creations of this time was the Footprints of the Hunter that was made using American equipment and borrowed techniques.
The first private production company was formed by the dedicated film maker Sun Bun Ly who is credited with producing some of the all time classic Cambodian movies. This man paved the way for a host of private production companies that were to follow.
By the 60s private production companies had become well established in the country. This era saw an increase in the number of movie theatres that catered to host the latest releases of the time. It is this decade that is remembered as the golden era of Cambodian movies.
Since the public was new to the concept of going to theatres to watch movies the rates were quite affordable. You would find different classes of people coming to watch different kinds of movies. The white collar workers and students would go for the European films where as the general public went for the Cambodian movies.
There are a number of movies from the time that are remembered as all time classics such as “The Snake King’s Wife, Khmer After Angkor and Goodbye Duaong Dara.
Naturally the rise of Cambodian movies gave birth to a class of film stars that became ideals for the local youth. A twist of fate however changed things around as the Khmer Rouge regime came into power and debased the Cambodian cinema industry.