Beyond Rangoon (1995) Script

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The trip was Andy's idea.

It was easier to say yes than argue.

Always that way with my sister.

She meant well.

A touch of the exotic east would get me away from all the things that reminded me of what had happened.

But it didn't.

Wherever I looked, I saw only the moment when my life ended.


Oh, my god!

'But our chances of being reborn'

'as a human being'

'are very, very slim.'

Please watch these steps. They're not exactly..


Uh, please, i-in the Buddhist world where suffering is the accepted condition of man the attainment of perfect detachment

'is the, is the ultimate achievement.'

'here, look what we have. Mm! Isn't this splendid?'

'look, look.'

The reclining figure represents the Buddha just before he passed into nirvana having at last divested himself of all earthly desire hence the smile of perfect contentment.

I suppose I thought I might find something in the east some kind of answer.

I stared at those stone faces..

...but nothing stirred in me.

I was stone myself.

'Yeah, we have here..'

'The Buddhist may not believe in a soul'

'but the sole of the Buddha's feet is a different matter.'

Now, yes, observe carefully the pictograms, ladies and you will see not only a record of the Buddha's life..

The boot.

Andy! Here, hold this!


Don't move him!

'What's his name?' 'Gael.' ah. Parle francais? Oui.

Uh, Gael? Gael?

I'm a doctor. It's okay.

'Ah, good, where does it hurt? Tell me where it hurts.'

'here?' aye, thank god!

'Alright. Sit up. Watch him for a couple of hours.'

'if he starts vomiting, gets dizzy'

'take him to a hospital, okay?'

Don't forget, eight o'clock, mandalay lounge.

I'll be giving an illustrated lecture to prepare us for the architectural joys of Thailand a lot of wonderful slides.

Could we have our key, please?

Could you try this number again, please?

When we ran this country, it worked!

My key, please! Hello?

Seven days here is seven days too long!

My key! Oh!

Excuse me.

I can't believe that child falling today off of the Buddha!

Where was his mother? I don't know.

Maybe this trip wasn't such a good idea.

Yes, it was.

It hasn't helped, though.

Has it?

Yes, it has. Really, it has.

No, it hasn't.

My skin is so dry.

I know you don't wanna hear this, but I think the best thing you could do is go back to work.

I never should have been working in the first place.

What do you mean?

I could have been spending that time with Nick and our boy.

But we were so proud of you, especially Nick.

He wanted you to be a doctor.

What would he want now?

I know.

I'm sorry.

I know I promised I wouldn't talk about it on this trip.

But I did. So?



Uh, stop! Uh, I dare you!

You dare me to stop? Yeah.


Oh, god. What?

It's okay. Go back to sleep.

America, la? Are you america? Yes.

'Aung San suu kyi! Aung San suu kyi!'

'aung San suu kyi!' 'Aung San suu kyi!'

American? Are you American? Yes.

American knows aung San suu kyi!

'No, I don't.' 'Very famous.' she's very beautiful. She will lead us to democracy.

Come. Come up here! You will see better up here. Come! Look!

Where is she?

Look! Here she comes now!

'Aung San suu kyi!' 'Aung San suu kyi!'

Aung San suu kyi! Aung San suu kyi!

Aung San suu kyi! Aung San suu kyi!

Hello, little one.

Aung San suu kyi!

Aung San suu kyi! Aung San suu kyi!

What, what's the matter?

Laura, where did you go?

Laura, the-these young men were just telling us you could have run into some very serious trouble.

There are many hooligans out tonight.

I can't believe you called the police.

This is not funny!

The colonel says you Americans think other nations' laws don't apply to you.

Well, here they do.

You broke curfew.

You could go to prison for that.

Yeah, well, tell him that your country doesn't seem to have a law against men pointing guns at women! Do you? Do you?

I want to apologize for my sister.

She means no disrespect.

Uh, well-well, don't worry, we're on the 8:30 A.M. flight for Bangkok in the morning and we couldn't get into anymore trouble even if we wanted to.

You may go. Go. Go.

Uh, well, thank you, uh, for your concern.

'I'm sure we'll, we will all be alright now.' uh, sorry you had to, uh, come out so late.

What is wrong with your sister?

Her husband and boy were murdered.

They were shot dead. They're dead.

Oh, my god! I had no idea.

She just told me she wasn't married.

Well, she isn't, is she?

'It's got to be here some place.'

I-It's not.

You had your passport when you went out last night, right?

I'm sure I had it in my purse.

Well, I guess those people weren't all as idealistic as you thought.

I can't believe one of them would have taken it.

Oh, Laura.

What am I gonna do with you?

Come on. Get dressed. We're gonna be late.

'This airport is closed..' what happened? They won't let her go.

Without a passport. You're not serious!

They even suggested she tried to sell it in the streets, for god's sake!

That's ridiculous! They won't even take..

A bribe! But what are we gonna do?

You're going to have to go to the embassy and get a new one, you'll probably get on Friday's flight.

As for us, we're getting on this one right now!

'I'm staying with her.' 'No, you're not!' you'll only get arrested. A lot good you'll do her in jail.

And what would they arrest me for?

You can't stay in this country for more than seven days.

This is a military dictatorship, in case you haven't noticed!

Now, please, say your goodbyes and get on the plane before they throw us all in jail!

Couldn't you just let her through to say goodbye?


She's not going anywhere!

Here, take my cash.

You've got the number of the oriental, right?

I'm gonna stay there till I hear from you.

Andy, don't worry about me.

It's just a couple of days. I'll be fine.

Laura, hey! Don't do anything dumb!

Laura, stay at the embassy until they give you a new passport and get on the first flight to Bangkok.



An American passport is worth a lot of money in this country and some of our fellow citizens have been known to sell theirs.

That's why they've been so tough on you.

Oh, uh, this should get you out of the country.

Thank you very much.

Oh, here's a, uh, a, a plastic thing for your, uh..

Oh, yes.

I was hoping to see a little of the countryside.

Do you have any suggestions?

It won't be the easiest time to do anything like that.

They've just put a-a temporary hold on all incoming tourist groups.

But they're still letting people out?

Oh, sure, but right now you might be the only tourist left in the country.

Even at the best of times, only official tour groups are allowed beyond rangoon.

Um, if you're stuck here tonight uh, there's a little Burmese restaurant I could show you.


Well, where are you..

Hey, come here. Let bird free.

You get good Karma. Ten kyats. Ten kyats only.


I'm afraid your bird has come back.

All they know is the cage.

Forgive me for importuning you. I am a tour guide.

I wait here for clients coming out of the embassy

'such as you, perhaps.'

I have many favorable comments in this book and pictures of beautiful sites.

I didn't think there were any tours right now.

There are no official tours.

Hm. I see, so you're an unofficial guide.

You could call me that.

Hm. Isn't that illegal?

In Burma everything is illegal.

Okay, do you think you could take me somewhere in the country somewhere off the tourist track?

Yes, but at the moment it would be wiser to remain within rangoon.


There are military checkpoints going out of the city.


Maybe the soldiers could be persuaded to let us through if we offered them a little money.

Okay. Let's go.

Shall we go to your hotel and pick up your husband?


Then we shall go now.

I'm Laura bowman.

My name is aung ko.

And this is my motorcar.

So there I was in a beat-up Chevy in the middle of nowhere.

But there was something comforting about traveling with someone who knew nothing about me.

'Oh. Checkpoint.' oh. Is it time to do some persuading?

'Yes, 50 kyats would be very persuasive now.' here. Thank you.

Burma is a land of monks, and soldiers as you may have noticed.

We all spend a little time as a monk.

But once a soldier, always a soldier.

Excuse me.

Okay, okay.

They gave you a hard time.

They need to remind us that they are strong and we are weak.

It is the way Burmese soldiers are.

If, if all men were monks at one time then you must have been one, too?

Oh, yes, I lived as a monk not far from here

'when I was a boy.' can we go there?

That would be difficult.

Why is that?

Are women not allowed in the monasteries?

No. That's no problem.

In Burma, women are completely equal with men.

But I'm concerned about getting you back to rangoon by nightfall.

Mm. Let's risk it.

We will need to make an offering.

What kind of offering?

That would depend on how much good Karma you want for your next life.


Oh, I can't plan that far ahead.

Then some fresh fruit from the market will do.

Did you say completely equal?

Oh, yes. A woman can even become a Buddha.

But for that she must first come back as a man.

Ah, there's always a catch.

I was here as a boy such a long time ago.

It seems very small.

Here. You do it.


At the time, what they were doing seemed like what I was doing.

Shutting life out.

Was that it?

Don't fall in love.

Don't have kids.

That way you can't get hurt.

Well, if there's no god in buddhism then who are they praying to?

They were not praying. They were meditating.

They meditate to settle the mind.

And when the mind is calm only then can it receive wisdom.

Is your mind calm?

At present my mind is most agitated!

I'm afraid it's the water pump.

It's been giving me trouble for some days now.

So what are you telling me, that we're stuck out here in the middle of nowhere, is that it?

Well, all is not necessarily lost.

Please come to the car.

'I have some friends who might be able to help'

'and they live not very far from here.' and, fortunately, it is downhill most of the way.

What about the parts that aren't downhill?

Perhaps we will gather sufficient speed going down to help us up those parts which are up.

Aren't you going to stop?

If we stop, we'll stop for good!

I think we can make it now.

Mn-mn. Mm-hmm, it's okay.


These are the friends we were trying to reach! Ha!

Please, get in the car with the professor.

Like so. Burmese dress becomes you very much.

I will show you how to tie it.

It's necessary to be born here to tie it so it stay tight.

Buddha said spiritual life is noble friendship and never let a meal go by without sharing it.

So let us drink to the professor in English style!

Three cheers for the professor!

Hip-hip, hurray! Hip-hip, hurray!

Hip-hip, hurray!

And may he live a long life.

We were all his students at rangoon university.

He was best professor. Yes, he was.

Mm, why don't you teach anymore?

It's because of me.

I was organizing the student democracy movement of 1974.

The army smashed it. They arrested me.

He was only 16 years old.

'They tortured him, made him slave for army.' but after five months, I escaped.

I was sick.

I came to professor for help.

He take me in.

For helping me, professor was sent to prison for two years

'and was forbidden from teaching ever again.' how can they do that?

They can do whatever they want..

...because we Burmese are too polite to resist.

That's why general ne win can rule this country for 25 years.

We accept murder and torture.

We suffer in silence or live like this, in hiding.

Now is different. Now we have aung San suu kyi!

Do you know aung San suu kyi?

Yes. I saw her speak last night.

She was there? She was so brave.

'But did you know her before last night? Of course not.' because no television camera is allowed in Burma.

No foreign journalists.

Burma will not be saved by america.

Burma will be saved when every student every professor and every mother faces the guns like aung San suu kyi.

So let us make a toast to aung San suu kyi!

'Aung San suu kyi!'

Everybody, please.

Looking around that table I realized that they'd all been injured by fate.

Yet they could still laugh.

They seemed so strong.

Perhaps, because they were able to share their grief while mine was locked inside me.

That night with them was the first time I could let go.

I'm sorry. I didn't know any of this.

You don't need to apologize.

You're occupied with other things.

Your heart is wounded.

Excuse me.

The front door was wide open and..

My house was a total wreck.

I walked in and, and I saw.

Danny's legs sticking out of the door to the den, and..

...then, my husband.

They stole his wedding ring.

'I was brought up to believe' that if I were good if I worked hard then I had a right to happiness.

I was a fool, wasn't I?

We are taught that suffering is the one promise life always keeps.. that if happiness comes..

...we know it is a precious gift which is ours only for a brief time.

It's beautiful here.

That night I had a dream that they were still alive.

It was so vivid that I thought I was awake and that their being dead was the dream.

♪ La-la la-la ♪

In the dream, Nick and Danny had been climbing up to a Buddha and there was one up there.

I felt a deep sense of peace.

It was as though they were with me.

I could feel them all around me.

And it gave me strength.

I must take you back to rangoon immediately!

You cannot go with her to rangoon. They will kill you!

His name is on their list.

She is my responsibility.

I brought her here. I must bring her back.

Aung ko, what happened?

There's been a massacre in rangoon!

The army opened fire on the demonstrators.

They were unarmed! It was just a peaceful march!

Someone has informed about this house. The troops are coming!

There is a railway station at prome.

Take her there, professor.

I can't just leave her at a train station!

We have no choice! Train station is fine.

Go on! Go on! I'll help the professor!

The refugee camp at Mae nam mee! You know the trail!

Yes, yes, we'll catch up with you.

Marshal law. They've closed the airport.

When you get to rangoon, go straight to your embassy.

Well, look, here's my address in the states.

I hope you'll write to me.

You're a doctor.

Well, a doctor who can't stand the sight of blood is not much use to anybody.

Ms. Laura, here are your things.

Oh, thanks.

Get down! You have no papers!

The money!

Wait until they are not watching.

Then walk slowly to the train.

Goodbye, min han.

Bye, Ms. Laura.

There is nothing you can do for me.

Please, go! Go! Please!

Come on!

Pump the pedal! I am!


Oh, fuck!



I'm sorry.

Oh, my god!



Come on.

We need help!

This man is hurt!

Somebody help us!


Do you speak English?

I need to get him to a bigger village somewhere where there's medicine!

I can pay you!

How much you got?

Two hundred kyats!

You want we risk for-for 200 kyats?

It's all I have!

You wait for somebody bigger fool than me!

Soldier every place now!

He says he will take us.

They're on their way to rangoon to sell their bamboo.

Thank you.

Can... can you help us?

Come on.


Aung ko, shh..

Hold on. It's almost morning.

'Let me die.' no, you're going to live.

Aung ko.

Come on.

Squeeze my hand.

Come on. Stay with me.

Is there a pharmacy in town?

Medicine. Medicine? Doctor? Doctor.

He needs medicine.

He's not gonna live without it.

Please, 30 minutes.


Okay, thank you.

No, no. No, I don't want that.

No, no, no, no, if they see me with that..

Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you.

Please help me. My friend, he's dying.

'I need medicine. I need a hospital.'

There's a clinic.

That building at the end.

Be careful. They took my husband away.

Thank you.




0-over there.

Thank you.

Take care.


Goodbye, sein htoo.

Now I must go. Go where?

I have some friends who live nearby.

You're not going anywhere.

Your friends have all fled, I'm gonna arrange to get you asylum.

Wait there, aung ko! I can't let you do this.

Just wait there. I'll be back.

It is most unseemly.

America! America, help us!

America, help us!

America, help us!

I'm an American citizen! I need to speak with the consul.

Passport, please. It's inside the embassy.

I'm picking it up now, go check with them.

What is your name? Bowman. Laura bowman.


Hey. No photograph.

See there, Laura bowman. Yes.

Bowman? Yes.

Come with me. What?

Where is the man you were traveling with?

What man?

No! You can't do this!

I'm an American citizen!

Help him!

This is crazy! I need to call the embassy!

All phones cut!

Stop it! Stop!

He says we can hide in the monastery!


They have a truck! We try for border!


Hurry! Hurry!

Who, who are you?

Does the world know what is happening here?

They won't, unless I get these photos out!

Run! Run!

Where are you from? America.

Why are you here? It's not by choice.

The photographer smuggled his pictures out somehow.

They were the only evidence of the massacre.

What the Chinese did in tiananmen square was televised but Burma wasn't.

So for most of the world.. just didn't happen.

What is it?


He wanted to kill the soldier because soldiers killed his brother.

I was telling him that if we do to them what they have done to us we will become like them.

He saved our lives.

But he did it with hate.

You can't fight without hate.

Do monks talk of fighting now?

Thousands of students just kids, really did what we did.

We headed for the jungles of the north.

If we could cross the border into Thailand, we'd be safe.

Aung ko knew the way, he'd gotten his daughter out when the government came after his family.


No, no, Laura.

Let's go.

They shoot us all like animals!

Shh. Shh. How can they do that?

How can they shoot their own people like that in cold blood?

They get boys from villages. They can't read or write.

They tell them student are communists who want to destroy Burma.

And they believe that?

I used to believe that, too.

I'm not a monk.

I'm a soldier.

Shh! Shh!

When they order us to shoot children, I ran away.

The monks shaved my head..

...and gave me these robes to hide me.

'I decide to join the students'

'and fight against the army.'

but it is useless now.

I lose everything.

My country, my family.

I'm nothing.

No. You're more than you were.

Much more.

You, but you have to keep going.

You know how to fight.

You can help us.


It's alright. It's alright. They're friendly.

Who are they?

They are Karen guerillas.

They have been fighting the government for more than 40 years.

It's okay. It's safe to follow them.

They will take us to their camp near the border.

Many students are gathered there.

During that time, the Karen sheltered thousands of students as best they could.

But they had hardly enough food for themselves and their camps were always under the threat of attack.

Ms. Laura, water?

Ms. Laura, there is great happiness that all are safe.

Are all your friends safe? Yes, all are here.

Thank you.

Where's min han?

He-he, he saved aung ko's life.

I was getting on the train and..

...they just shot him.

The karens think there is a chance we can cross the border tomorrow.

'They think the soldiers have moved north.' they have been shooting everybody that tries to cross.

So... we go tomorrow.

'This is the BBC world service broadcasting from London.'

'popular opposition leader, aung San suu kyi'

'taped an emotional appeal to the world community'

'to help stop the bloodshed that has gripped her country'

'and to support her call for fair and free elections.'

'but the military regime denied that violence had been used'

'but vowed that order would be restored at any cost.'

'and now, here is the sports roundup.'

'in cricket today, imran Khan, of Pakistan..'

General ne win rules by fear.

But he is afraid of aung San suu kyi because she's not afraid.

That night in rangoon when she just faced the guns she looked so serene, and all those people were watching.

Because she was not watching herself.

Blanket for you? Thank you, San San.


...tomorrow, one way or another our ways will part.

Aung ko..

...i feel like we've lived a whole life together.. and I.

Ah. Ah..


You got to let me go, mom.

I have to go.

My boy, Danny..

...I've held him so clearly in my mind's eye.

But I I can't seem to hang on to him.

He's fading.

I'm losing him.

All things pass, Laura.


I want to believe that he's somewhere else.

He and his father, together.

I hope his father's taking care of him.

They are shadows as we are shadows briefly walking the earth, and soon gone.

All I wanted to do was just.. die to be with them.

And here I am fighting to stay alive.

Life is too strong in you.

It won't let you go.

It has a purpose for you.


You are a healer.


You healed me.

That was the antibiotic.

More than my wound.

I think when it came down to it I was just afraid to die.

Me, too.

Try to sleep.

That is Thailand, across the river.

Thailand! Thailand!


Thailand? Thailand?


No.. Ah..

Come on!

Aung ko!

Aung ko!

Are you alright?

Laura, please, please come. Please.

This is my daughter, ni la. Hi.

My granddaughter, so so.

My good friend, Laura bowman.

She's beautiful! They're both beautiful.

San San.

I'm so sorry.

Democracy! Democracy!

Aung San suu kyi! Aung San suu kyi!

Democracy! Democracy!

Aung San suu kyi! Aung San suu kyi!

I'm a doctor.

Where the hell did you come from?

Can I help?

Are you kidding? How long can you stay?

As long as you need me.

Okay, come on.