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Exploring the Turmoil in Sri Lanka: A Review of the Documentary 'Demons in Paradise'

Demons in Paradise offers a haunting exploration of the brutal Sri Lankan Civil War through the lens of a survivor.

Keywords: , Sri Lankan Civil War, Ethnic Conflict, Tamil, Sinhalese, Documentary. Three words:, Haunting, Revealing, Personal.


'Demons in Paradise', directed by Jude Ratnam, was released in 2017. This deeply personal documentary offers a haunting exploration of the brutal civil war in Sri Lanka that spanned over a quarter of a century. As ethnic tensions continue to simmer in today's Sri Lanka, understanding the roots and the impacts of this conflict is more relevant than ever.


The documentary unfolds through the lens of Ratnam, a Tamil, who was just five years old when he was forced to flee the massacre of the Tamils instigated by the Pro-Sinhalese majoritarian government. 'Demons in Paradise' serves as Ratnam's journey back into a past marked by violence, fear, and displacement.

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The documentary employs an introspective and participatory approach, with Ratnam engaging in conversations with former Tamil militants. The depth of exploration into the subject matter is commendable, as it sheds light on a conflict that is often overlooked in global discourse.

Historical and Factual Context


For further understanding of the Sri Lankan Civil War, visit this BBC timeline, or this Al Jazeera explainer.

Key themes in the film

  • Human cost of ethnic conflict
  • The cycle of violence and revenge
  • The struggle for identity and belonging

Film Comparisons

'Demons in Paradise' offers a more personal perspective compared to other documentaries, such as 'No Fire Zone' which focuses more on the political aspects of the conflict.

Noteworthy Moments

Ratnam's conversations with former Tamil militants offer chilling insights into the brutal realities of the conflict.


Audiences have praised the documentary's raw and honest portrayal of the civil war. As one reviewer noted, "It is a powerful, personal, and deeply moving documentary that should be seen by all."


'Demons in Paradise' is a powerful exploration of the human cost of ethnic conflict. It's a must-watch for those interested in understanding the complexities of the Sri Lankan Civil War and its lasting impact.

More film information:


  • IMDB score: 7.2
  • Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
  • Metacritic score: N/A
  • Film festival awards: 2 wins & 2 nominations



  • Jude Ratnam: The director and narrator who lived through the conflict.
  • Former Tamil militants: Provides first-hand accounts of the violence.



  • Sri Lanka: The island-nation where the conflict took place.
  • Train: Symbolic of Ratnam's escape and journey.

Key questions raised by the film:

  • How does ethnic conflict shape individual and collective identities?
  • Can there be true reconciliation after such a brutal conflict?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form

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  1. A famous book, it would be 'Half of a Yellow Sun' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - both explore the human cost of ethnic conflict.
  2. A famous song, it would be 'Imagine' by John Lennon - both share a longing for peace and unity.
  3. A famous piece of art, it would be Picasso's 'Guernica' - both depict the horrors of war.
  4. A famous celebrity, it would be Angelina Jolie - both are advocates for refugees and victims of conflict.
  5. A colour, it would be grey - representing the bleakness and despair of war.
  6. A music style, it would be blues - both share themes of sorrow and hardship.