Tomb Raider's Lara Croft, above, is bound for Angkor Wat
SECTIONS of the historic Angkor Wat complex in Siem Reap will go Hollywood this October
as actress Angelina Jolie and a Paramount Pictures film crew of approximately 250
are expected to do location shots for a new motion picture based on the popular Tomb
Raiders video game series.
The Apsara Authority, which oversees conservation activities at Angkor Wat, is expected
to finalize within days an agreement with Paramount allowing about two weeks of filming
in and around the Angkor Wat site.
The film was inspired by a recent version of the "Tomb Raiders" video game
series that involved the "Tomb Raiders" archeologist heroine Lara Croft
negotiating a virtual Angkor Wat environment in search of lost treasure.
The film stars Jolie (Girl Interrupted) in the lead role and is scheduled for a summer
Apsara Authority spokesman Ang Choulean told the Post that athough negotiations with
Paramount were ongoing, he was confident a deal would be signed.
"Officially there is not yet any agreement [between Apsara and Paramount Pictures],
but I hope that the filming can take place," he said.
A Paramount Pictures UK press statement issued in early August expressed no such
reservations, stating that location filming was already scheduled for both Cambodia
Studio filming is already under way at England's Pinewood Studios, where Jolie is
being coached by a Cambodian on lines of Khmer-language dialogue that have been written
into the script.
The Paramount Pictures press release said Jolie had been put on a extremely physical
training regimen to prepare for the role, including "...gymnastics, bungee jumping,
kickboxing, weight training and the use of machine guns."
According to Choulean, though negotiations with Paramount have resolved Apsara's
concerns about any possible physical threat the filming might pose to the Angkor
site, doubts about the benefit the film might provide to Angkor's international image
have been expressed.
"To tell you the truth, we would have preferred a romantic film ... we don't
want to give the world an image of Angkor as a tomb," Choulean said.
"I don't know what impact this kind of adventure film might have on Angkor's
image, but they [Paramount Pictures representatives] have assured me that this film
will have no blood or violence, only some guns."
Tomb Raiders will mark the second time in 36 years that Angkor Wat has been a location
for a Hollywood production.
In 1964 Lord Jim, starring Peter O'Toole, was filmed in and around Angkor Wat. Lord
Jim is credited by Cambodian historian David Chandler with prompting Prince Sihanouk
to embark on the production of nine films between 1965 and 1969.