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The Betrayal (2009)

Ellen Kuras  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Directors: Ellen Kuras
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Cinema Guild
  • DVD Release Date: September 1, 2009
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,308 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Betrayal" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Academy Award nominee - Best Documentary Feature
Filmed over 23 years, The Betrayal is the directorial debut of renowned cinematographer Ellen Kuras (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) in a remarkable collaboration with the film s subject and co-director Thavisouk Phrasavath.

During the Vietnam War, the United States government waged its own secret war in the neighboring country of Laos. When the U.S. withdrew, thousands of Laotians who fought alongside American forces were left behind to face imprisonment or execution. One family, the Phrasavaths, made the courageous decision to escape to America. Hoping to find safety, they discovered a different kind of war.

Epic in scope yet devastatingly intimate, featuring an exquisite score by Academy Award winning composer Howard Shore, The Betrayal is a testament to the resilient bonds of family and an astonishing tale of survival.

Special Features:
- Audio Commentary by Director Ellen Kuras and Executive Producer Cara Mertes
- Q&A Interview with Director Ellen Kuras & co-Director Thavisouk Phrasavath
- Conversation with Director Ellen Kuras and Composer Howard Shore
- Archival Footage and Selected Newsreels
- Additional Montage Footage of Laos
- Excerpts of Thavisouk s First Interview (1986)
- Omitted Scene
- Filmmakers Biographies
- Thavisouk Returns To Laos
- Theatrical Trailer
- Photo Gallery
- Essay by Filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus


"The subjects addressed in The Betrayal could hardly be more enormous: war, revolution, the abandonment of a nation and the scattering of its citizens. But the film, though it includes old news clips of the war in Laos and of American presidents discussing that country s fate, is distinguished by an intimate mood and a lyrical tone. It is quiet, contemplative and impressionistic, which makes the story it has to tell all the more powerful." --A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"Lyrical, expansive, unbearably beautiful." --David Edelstein, New York Magazine

"A shimmering, absorbing experience that's both specific and general, both concrete and abstract. It's about one Laotian family in Brooklyn and about almost every immigrant family everywhere in the country, about the allure of America and its often ugly reality." --Andrew O Hehir,

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When The Great White Eagle Came March 7, 2011
Nerakhoon is the Laotian word for "betrayed". The movie is filmed in semi-documentary style but with a trained narrative that evokes the spirit of the Viet Nam nightmare as seen from the side of a humble Laotian family. As background we are told the tale of a Laotian prophecy warning the asian people of Laos that some day an Eagle will come and visit the country with great tumult. Thavi's father was in the Laotian military and was soon helping the CIA target communist forces in the jungle and villages for bombing. Thavi recounts horror stories of war and seeing villagers vaporized as they were riding their bikes and "burned to white powder". As a child, with a father in the army, he simply resigned himself to the fact this was life. The next phase comes and soon the US pulls out abruptly leaving those who assisted the US alone and on their own overnight. Soon the Pathet Lao descend and sort out who collaborated and send them to work camps to fill in huge B-52 bomb craters with small woven baskets. In the meantime Thavi and his family are left to fend for themselves.

After escaping to Thailand Thavi, his mother, and family are lucky enough to be granted asylum in the US. Soon they are swooping in over the completely exotic landscape of New York City as the jet lands at night with a huge and stunning sea of lights beneath. Once there however, they find the emerald city of dreams they imagined soon turns out to be a classic modern Dickensian ordeal with the family entering a 1970's urban decay landscape with all its accompanying problems like crime, drugs, and poverty. The depravities and insensitivities the family faces in Brooklyn are shocking to the contemplative asians and the mother is immediately taken aback at what they encounter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hidden aspect of American history September 26, 2012
By Joyce
For over 20 years cinematographer Ellen Kuras collaborated with Thavisouk (Thavi) Phrasavath, a Laotian-born writer and film editor, to produce this film about betrayals. One is the U.S. government's betrayal of Laotian soldiers who faithfully helped the U.S. carry out clandestine operations during the Viet Nam War and were then abandoned by the U.S. The Laotian soldiers, including Thavi's father, became enemies in their own country. When most of Thavi's family escaped to the U.S., Thavi's mother and eight of the ten children were separated from his father for years. His father's marriage to another woman was another betrayal. The family in the U.S. senses betrayal by the United States. They had expected a "heaven on earth" in escaping their dangerous situation in Laos. Instead they found themselves in a filthy, overcrowded neighborhood in Brooklyn, terrorized by crack addicts and gang members. Thavi's mother, who had protected her large brood in a war-torn country, felt betrayed by them when they became like many American teens who disrespect their parents. The film reveals a hidden aspect of American history through the personal experience of a displaced family, a courageous group that finally triumphs through their adversity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Betrayal or Neskharoon May 24, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I think this is the only film of its type: about the immigration Of Laotians to the US after the SE Asian war. The fact it follows their difficult adjustment process for 20 years is amazing. I showed it to a group of Laotian elders who could identify with much of it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT July 6, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A true story. Visually impactful, and grabbing. A nice history lesson. This film fills you in on the U.S. government's military actions during the Vietnam War.
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4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It will make you cry! September 2, 2009
I watched it on YouTube and it is Awesome piece of work. I am buying DVD from Amazon
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