Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Rocket - a film review

This dramatic and heartwarming film takes place against the lush and dramatic scenery of Laos. Ahlo, a young boy is believed to be cursed and his family blame them for all their misfortune.

When a second dam is built in the nearby valley, the family's home and community is destroyed and they are forced to travel miles to the new 'resettlement village' where they are promised running water and electricity. However in reality, the village hasn't even yet been built and the villagers are forced to make their own shelter from plastic sheeting and branches.

Ahlo makes friends with a young girl Kia and her alcoholic uncle (who's obsessed with James Brown). Ahlo's family agree to move to the uncle's village, but when they get there they find it is abandoned and full of unexploded bombs. The local bureaucrats in addition tell the family they can't live there and must leave in two days, once the Rocket festival has ended.

Ahlo is determined to win the rocket festival to win back his father's love. He sets about building a magnificent rocket, with the help of Kia's uncle, who used to be a soldier.

The film ends with scenes from the Rocket Festival, where rockets are sent up into the sky in the hopes that one of them will make the rains start. Ahlo is working on his rocket right up to the last moment, will his first attempt manage to beat the huge Millenial Rocket, built by the team that has won the last several rocket festivals?

This is a beautiful, touching film about hope and overcoming your demons, set within the context of a community and environment pushed to the edge by technological development and progress. 

The Rocket is showing at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh until Thursday 20 March

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