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Thrillingly unorthodox and emotionally searing without being didactic, The Missing Picture is a uniquely poignant documentary -- and so much more.
All Critics (88)
| Top Critics (25)
| Fresh (87)
| Rotten (1)
Panh fulfills his debts to the dead not just by adding to the visual record of genocide, but also by creating a transcendent work of art.
Many films have examined from many vantages the Khmer Rouge's nightmare reign, notably Roland Joffé's 1985 Oscar winner The Killing Fields.
As haunting as it is haunted, "The Missing Picture" leaves viewers' heads rattling with ghosts.
A uniquely subjective account of the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s, "The Missing Picture" is the work of Rithy Panh, a Cambodian native who left his homeland when he was an adolescent.
[It] aspires to a poetry about barbarism that will not let us forget.
What remains disturbing and puzzling is the realisation that somewhere along the line the real and the false change places, and that Panh is able to move us more deeply with his dioramas than by telling the same atrocious story in a straightforward way.
To make up for the pictures we don't have, Panh uses small clay figurines, hundreds of them, painted, clothed, with individual expressions on their faces, and placed in meticulously detailed dioramas that he seems to have reconstructed from memories...
Consisting of a series of carefully crafted dioramas of human tragedy, The Missing Picture is populated by an intense sense of hopelessness.
There are acts of rebellion and repression... but always subjugating, even in its most cruel or soulless moments. [Full review in Spanish]
A visceral, intimate, and devastating film about ideological manipulation and dehumanization. [Full Review in Spanish]
The Missing Picture is a work of an excessive aesthetic ambition, could be defined as a hybrid in which the director mixes his family memories with the political transformation that his native country suffered. [Full Review in Spanish]
It's a meditation on individualism and poetry; the power of image to remind and exorcise; the ruthless zeal of revolution; the endurance of memory and family, and the human will to survive.
Rithy Panh uses archive footage, claymation, dioramas and a sublime sound design to make a devastating account of the nightmare that was his life as a prisoner of the Khmer Rouge regime, in order to recreate and expose that tragic missing piece in the history of his country.
Cambodia's foreign film entry "The Missing Picture" is a multi-media exploration of the Kampuchean Revolution in 1975, of which very few images remain. To counteract these "missing pictures", the filmmaker creates clay models of himself and many of the surrounding Cambodians to reenact the damage done by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. The real marvel of the film is the inclusion of the archival footage that does remain from that time period and the haunting nature that is evoked from these images. A feeling similarly produced by that of the Holocaust imagery, these men, women, and children are ripped from their homes, forced to work the rice fields, carrying fertilizer barefoot on the hard ground, all while being given very little to eat and being left to sleep in the wilderness. The narrator is extremely articulate and carries you though the documentary with ease. One of the only things working against the film is the constant shuffle between the revolution and the time prior to the interment, leaving the viewer slightly confused as to what is happening when and how they got there. However, the haunting archival footage is worth seeing the film alone. Not a definitive history class topic, "The Missing Picture" covers a particular poignant historical tragedy that is not often spoken of but resonates as a topic that is just as impacting as any high profile history lesson.
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