Prince Norodom Ranariddh’s first movie may not win any awards, but it is infused, over and over again, with one message: We must preserve our culture.
“Raja Bori,” or Royal City, which runs 90 minutes, carries this theme throughout.
It is the love story of childhood friends separated by their individual love for Khmer culture.
Samnang (played by Chea Samnang) dutifully enters the tour-guide career track, to become steeped in knowledge of the traditions and history of Angkor Wat. Phalla (played by Ouk Phalla), begs a professional Apsara dancer to teach her the art.
The two meet 15 years later during Khmer New Year. They spend time strolling through Angkor Wat, reminding each other of the temple’s cultural significance.
A few plot twists ensue, and the two find themselves separated and broken hearted. The cause of all this pain? None other than an unscrupulous artifact smuggler.
Phalla gets pressure to marry the awful—but wealthy—smuggler, despite her wish to return to school (or marry Samnang).
“I think your education is sufficient. Now you should start to think about your future,” her mother tells her.
She despairs. Samnang disappears. Justice and fate play their hands. The movie ends, with a twist.
The work is nothing exceptional on its own. Prince Ranariddh himself called it “the realization of an amateur.” But it contains a few insightful scenes, like close-ups of the hand movements of Apsara dancers, and painstaking details of a Khmer wedding.
“Everybody feels it is a very educational film,” said Noranarith Anandayath, the assistant producer.
“Raja Bori” will likely next be shown to district governors and commune chiefs, then to university students, Noranarith Anandayath said. Shows in the countryside and on television are also possible, he said.