Monday, October 23, 2023

Once Upon a Star

Some of us older folks remember black and white films and some of our predecessors can recall movies with no sound dialogue.  Thailand went through a similar progression, but during the period before sound became readily accessible they offered live dubbing which was practical in rural areas with small villages.  They didn't charge admission, but got money from selling medicines usually by interrupting during tense moments in the film.

Unless you are a little interested in history and how things came to be you might find it a bit boring.  However the writer and director have plotted and handled events to be compelling. 

The troop we are following consists of three men, Manit, Kao and Uncle Man two of whom speak dialogue into the mikes while the third provides sound effects, sometimes including music.  The female voices are voiced by Manit.  The dialogue is sometimes improvised and the tone doesn't always match the script.  The three men realize that  they would get better responses if they hired a female.

This changes the dyanamics.  Kae has just left her abusive husband and needs the money.   Her ambition is actually to be typist.  At one point two of the men admit they have feelings for her, but agree not to make a play.  The boss, Manit fixes things and finds a typewriter to make workable and gifts it to Kae.  This infuriates the other, Kao and while they are heatedly discussing it are overheard by Kae who resents that an agreement was made without her knowledge.  After some hard feelings are expressed the situation is resolved by outside factors.

But still the four have competition.   In one segment two screens are side by side close enough that viewers can shift from one to the other.  There is a real tug of war and both use improvisation to good effect.

They also have mechanical problems which come from an old vehicle forced to travel down narrow muddy paths.  On one occasion they are rescued by a team of buffalos and another by a military troop.

Mitr Chaibancha a well regarded actor performed in non talkies.  His films were the attraction for many of the viewers.  In real life he died from a helicopter accident while filming on October 8, 1970.  This coincided with the troop running into hard times from modernizing efforts.

It runs smoothly and engagingly due to the efforts of the cast and crew.  Here are a few.

Nonzee Minbutr is the director/producer.  He started his career as a director of television commercials an music videos.  He has 14 film credits.

Ek Iemchuen is the writer.  He has 7 credits as a production designer and 4 as a writer.

Music is by Chatchai Pongraphan  with twenty years of experience.  He has been quoted saying "I make music for eyes, not ears."  I interpret that to mean the music supports the visual and in this film it certainly does.  He has 40 film credits.       

Teerawat Runjinham was the cinematographer.  He has 22 film credits.

Manussa Vorasingha is the editor. with 54 credits including "Bad Genius" (2017) and "Hunger" (2023).  See one of my favorite films

Sukollawat Kanarot played Manit.  He has 54 film credits.

Nueghida Sophon played Kae.  She is best known for singing.  An award winner at an early age.  She has 13 film credits.

Jirayu La-ongmanee played Kao , the youngest of the three men.  He had been a prominent boy band member.  He has 22 film credits including a number of television series for multiple episodes.

Samart Payukaroon played Uncle Man.  He had been a muay thai and boxing champion.  He has 17 film credits.

We watch movies including the latest with the most fanfare, but we should maybe stop and realize there was a lot of history to reach this stage.  Thailand is making a mark on the international scene, but not forgetting how they got there.

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