When Luc Besson was making "The Lady," his bio-pic about Burmese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, he couldn't just set up his camera on a studio backlot and start rolling.
Much of the drama takes place at the home outside Yangon (Rangoon) where Suu Kyi, played in the film by Michelle Yeoh, was held under house arrest for nearly 15 years. To replicate the exact look and feel of her domestic prison, Besson relied on Google Maps images, eyewitness recollections and whatever else he could find.
Shooting primarily in Thailand, the filmmakers knew it was crucial for their movie to look and sound as authentic as possible: from the stirring words that Suu Kyi has used in defending democracy, to the classical music that was played when her son accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on her behalf in Stockholm. (For the record, it was Pachelbel's "Canon in D.")
Yeoh, who was born in Malaysia and speaks English, Cantonese and Mandarin, even went so far as mastering enough Burmese to be able to deliver one of Suu Kyi's key speeches in her native tongue.
Here's an exerpt from the filmmakers' conversation last week with The Envelope at the Arclight theater in Sherman Oaks.
-- Reed Johnson
Photo: Luc Besson, left, Michelle Yeoh, David Thewlis and Virginie Besson-Silla at the Rome Film Festival. Credit: Claudio Peri / European Pressphoto Agency