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Tuesday, 7 March, 2000, 15:13 GMT
Thais stage DiCaprio 'suicide'
DiCaprio's Beach protesters
Emotions ran high at the Thai premiere of The Beach
Angry environmentalists have carried out a mock ritual suicide of Hollywood heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio at the Thai premiere of The Beach.

A demonstrator wearing a DiCaprio mask, surrounded by hundreds of onlookers, faked hara-kiri outside a cinema in Bangkok

DiCaprio's Beach protesters
Photos of the alleged damage were shown to the public
The activists said the mock suicide symbolised the sense of shame DiCaprio should feel for taking part in a film opponents say ruined a pristine beach on Phi Phi Island.

They displayed photographs of Maya Beach where palm trees were planted and landscaping was carried out before the shoot last year.

As part of Tuesday's demonstration, the protesters urged the public to boycott the film over the controversy.

"The public is very interested in what we have done, especially the hara-kiri ceremony, said Sirinee Yommana, a member of Phuket Environmental Protection group.

Legal proceedings

Coincidentally, the protest took place on the same day a Thai court resumed hearings on a case brought by local administrators against Fox, a local producer and the government's forestry department over the alleged damage.

The charges claim that the film shoot was given the go-ahead before social impact and environmental studies were carried out and is claiming compensation of more than 100 million baht (1.6m).

Maya Beach, Phi Phib Island
Receding: Sand dune erosion on Maya Beach
Fox denies damaging Maya beach and last year DiCaprio issued a statement defending the use of the island.

DiCaprio said 20th Century Fox had taken "meticulous" care to safeguard the island's natural heritage and had cleared tonnes of garbage off the beach.

The Beach, which bizarrely rails against the destructive impact of heavy tourism, opened in the US and Europe last month.

Based on Alex Garland's best-selling novel, the story follows an American backpacker who travels to Thailand in search of a secret island paradise.

The film, which has received mixed reviews, has not been the expected blockbuster. It dropped out of the US Top 10 three weeks after its release.

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See also:

28 Feb 00 |  Entertainment
Beach's box office bombshell
10 Feb 00 |  Entertainment
Fears for DiCaprio's Beach
10 Feb 00 |  Entertainment
Film review: The Beach
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