On Location with Tomb Raider
Several sequences for the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), starring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, were shot around the temples of Angkor. The Cambodia shoot opened at Phnom Bakheng, with Lara looking through binoculars for the mysterious temple. The baddies were already trying to break in through the east gate of Angkor Thom by pulling down a giant (polystyrene!) apsara. Reunited with her custom Land Rover, Lara made a few laps around Bayon before discovering a back way into the temple from Ta Prohm. After battling a living statue and dodging Daniel Craig (aka 007) by diving off the waterfall at Phnom Kulen, she emerged in a floating market in front of Angkor Wat, as you do. She came ashore here before borrowing a mobile phone from a local monk and venturing into the Gallery of a Thousand Buddhas, where she was healed by the abbot.
The Lost City of Mahendrapravarta
Phnom Kulen hit the headlines in 2013 thanks to the 'discovery' of a lost city known in Angkorian times as Mahendraparvata. Using jungle-piercing LIDAR radar technology, the structures of a more extensive archaeological site have been unveiled beneath the jungle canopy. However, it wasn't quite as dramatic a discovery as initially reported, as Phnom Kulen had long been known as an important archaeological site. The LIDAR research confirmed the size and scale of the ancient city, complete with canals and barays, in the same way NASA satellite imagery had helped identify the size and scale of the greater Angkor hydraulic water system more than a decade earlier. Some new temples and features were identified beneath the jungle, but remain remote and inaccessible due to terrain and the possibility of land mines. An additional LIDAR survey of the entire Kulen plateau was conducted in 2015.