Sunday, July 01, 2012


This is a copy of what I wrote on a friend's Facebook wall, talking about why we're interested in old Thai films:

I share the same reasons as Graiwoot about why I'm interested in old Thai films. As for me, I think I'm interested in films in general, and old Thai cinema is just a part of them. It is just one of the uncharted territories for me. There are so many old Thai films which I still haven't seen but would like to see, such as THE HEART HAS FEET (หัวใจมีตีน) (1972), starring Pairoj Jaising as a male prostitute.

A group of old Thai films which I'm particularly drawn to are the melodramatic ones and the dramatic ones about lives of women. There seem to be many Thai films about women's lives in the 1970s and the 1980s, but there are very few contemporary Thai mainstream films about women's lives now. I like such films as LITTLE DUCK (เป็ดน้อย) (1968, Prince Panupan Yukol), INSANE (ประสาท) (1975, Piak Poster), LAST LOVE (ความรักครั้งสุดท้าย) (1975, Chatreechaloem Yukol), THE FOREST OF EROS (ป่ากามเทพ) (1976, Vijit Kunavudhi), CHARMLESS (ไร้เสน่หา) (1979, Chana Kraprayoon), DIVORCE BECAUSE OF ADULTERY (หย่าเพราะมีชู้) (1985, Manop Udomdej), I DON'T GIVE IT A DAMN (ช่างมันฉันไม่แคร์) (1986, M.L. Bhandevanop Devakul), WATER AND SAND (น้ำเซาะทราย) (1986, Chalee Intaravijit), RIVER OF NO RETURN (สายน้ำไม่ไหลกลับ) (1987, Banjong Kosalvat), DON'T SAY SHE IS A SINNER (อย่าบอกว่าเธอบาป) (1987, Tanit Jitnukul), and IT'S ME (คือฉัน) (1990, JazzSiam), partly because they don't make melodramatic Thai films like some of these anymore, and partly because it is easier for me to identify with the adult heroines in these old Thai films than the young heroines in Thai contemporary mainstream films now.

As for old Thai directors, I like Permpol Choei-aroon the most. I have seen four films of his, and it made me feel so unexplainably great. I think I share the same wavelength with him much more than other old Thai directors. I find films made by other old Thai directors very entertaining, especially Dokdin Gunyamarn and Rangsee Tasanapayak.


celinejulie said...

I think Permpol's films differ a lot from Dokdin's and Rangsee's films, but I have heard that Permpol belongs to the new wave of Thai filmmakers, including Chatreechalerm Yukol, Yuthana Mukdasanit, and M.L. Bhandevanop Devakul, but I'm not sure about this.

I talk of Permpol as one of the old Thai directors because I have seen very few old Thai films. I think I have seen less than 20 Thai mainstream films made before 1973, so in my mind I tend to think of all these directors as belonging to the same imaginary group, though clearly there are a lot of differences between them.

Due to my extreme lack of knowledge of old Thai cinema, in my mind I tend to lazily divide Thai films into two main groups--the contemporary ones (the ones made since the emergence of Aphichatpong Weerasethakul and Nonzee Nimibutr in the late 1990s) and the old ones (the ones made before Tida Teerarat was awarded the best actress award for THE HEART WEARS SHOES (หัวใจใส่เกือก) (1993, Payoong Payagul)).

I'm sorry I cannot talk about anything serious here. Hahaha. I know no one else uses the awarding for Tida Teerarat as signifying the ruination of old Thai cinema. I just use this event as one of the cinematic milestones in my personal thinking. :-)

As for the question of uniqueness, I think I have seen nothing unique in the old Thai films I have seen, but I have seen very few old Thai films. :-)

On the contrary, some foreign films, such as SILENCE...WE'RE ROLLING (2001, Youssef Chahine, Egypt), and HOUSEFULL 2 (2012, Sajid Khan, India), strangely and unexplainably reminds me of something in old Thai films. It is difficult for me to explain what exactly in these films that reminds me of old Thai films. Maybe it is the humor, the tone, "the flavors" (รสชาติบางอย่างในภาพยนตร์), or what Filmsick calls "the aesthetic of distraction" (สุนทรียศาสตร์แห่งการกระเจิดกระเจิง) in these Egyptian and Bollywood films that reminds me of old Thai films.

There is a hide-and-seek scene in HOUSEFULL 2, which can be compared to the hide-and-seek scenes in BAAN PEE POB film series, in which many people can hide from Pob in the same jar. I think this kind of humor is not to be found in many Hollywood films, but we can find it in some Thai mainstream films and HOUSEFULL 2.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Celine for your interesting article. The strong drama and social Thai movies really start around 1972 /1973. I particularly like Thai old Social problem films (หนังสาธรสังคม or หนังสาธรปัญหาสังคม) - - But I also enjoy all the Mitr/Petchara movies in 1960s.

celinejulie said...

Thank you very much for your comment. Your website is great. There are so many films listed in your website which I haven't seen yet, such as HUMAN BEAST (สัตว์มนุษย์), TAXI DRIVER (CITIZEN I), DAO KIANG DUEN (ดาวเคียงเดือน), THE QUEEN OF GRASS FLOWERS (ราชินีดอกหญ้า), and HOME (บ้าน) (1987).

As for social problem films, I like THE FACTORY WORKERS OF HARA, RED BAMBOO (ไผ่แดง), THE MP OUTSIDE THE PARLIAMENT, THE GOD OF BANGPOON VILLAGE (1980, Pagorn Promwituck), and MARIJUANA GIRL (แม่ดอกกัญชา) (1977, Dokdin Ganyamarn) very much. :-)