Am Por Tevi probably should not take it personally, but judging by street interviews, her young fans’ favorite moment came when she is sliced open.
One of the stars of one of the first Cambodian films in decades, Am Por Tevi, 32, has appeared in more than 90 films and hundreds of karaoke videos in her career. In “Child of the Giant Snake,” based on the Khmer legend of a farmer’s wife who has an affair with a giant snake and then gives birth to a half-human, half-snake child.
The “birth” of the child occurs when the woman’s jealous husband cuts the pregnant woman open, sending snakes scattering across the screen.
“I liked the part where her stomach got cut and I saw the tiny snakes fall out of her,” said Meas Makara, a 16-year old sudent at Sisowath High School.
Around the block, Sin Votha, 15, agreed.
“That’s a good movie. I wanted to watch it again and again and again. I like the spot where the man cuts open her stomach,” he said, as his friends stood by, laughing.
There was a second favorite scene, though, Meas Makara said.
“She even dared to hold the snake,” she said, leaning forward and laughing.
Am Por Tevi said she was less enthusiastic about that scene.
“The spot where I have sex with the snake, I was so scared. The snake was very heavy. And there’s that sound as it moves. I didn’t know whether or not the snake was happy, or if he might swallow me,” she said, speaking at the dress-making shop she runs with her husband off Street 108, where her portraits and publicity shots cover the walls.
And then there were the after-effects. She had an allergic reaction to the snake’s oil, breaking out in a rash, and her left eye was swollen shut.
“I couldn’t see for four days,” she said, smiling beneath a thick layer of white makeup.
Fully recovered now, Am Por Tevi said she is looking forward to seeing the world as a tourist, not a performer.
Having just returned from Paris March 15, she said, she is scheduled to head to Chicago from April until June. But the trip is relatively low-frill for a movie actress.
“I’m staying with a friend,” she said.
Overall, Am Por Tevi said she was pleased with the film’s popularity, especially in Thailand, which has often exported its culture and films to Cambodia in the last decade. “Child of the Giant Snake” is an excellent showcase for Khmer culture, Am Por Tevi said.
“I’m very happy that a Thai director and film stars played with us. We have a chance to show our work to the Thais,” she said.