Beyond Rangoon


With the tragic events that have happened in Myanmar, I began thinking of Beyond Rangoon (1995), an American Film directed by John Boorman that gives an insight to the country’s political strife.

Beyond Rangoon was inspired by the history of political repression in Myanmar (formerly Burma). It tells the fictional story of Dr. Laura Bowman, an American who travels to Myanmar as a tourist, seeking to forget a tragedy at home. Confronted with the searing brutality of the ruling military dictatorship, she is transformed by the suffering of the Burmese people and the inspiring leadership of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi. To this day, Aung San Suu Kyi and the movement she heads still seek democracy and a government that recognizes basic human rights.

Dharmically, the film recalls a famous quote from Khen Rinpoche, “A dog wags its tail in Tibet the same as it does in New Jersey”. I take it that he meant something like, “Suffering in the U.S. can’t be escaped in Myanmar”. It’s no surprise that the suffering Laura finds suffering as soon as she disembarks in Myanmar but what makes the film especially worthwhile her discovery that wisdom and compassion are the only two things that can truly prevent suffering.