Friday, June 20, 2008

Extras-packed DVD of Syndromes and a Century set for release by BFI in UK


Praised everywhere in the world yet embattled in the filmmaker's home country, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Syndromes and a Century will receive the treatment it deserves in a DVD release by the British Film Institute.

Features include Worldly Desires, a 40-minute "experimental love story" that Apichatpong made for the Digital Short Films by Three Filmmakers project at the 2005 Jeonju International Film Festival. Other features are an interview with the director, the trailer and a 28-page illustrated booklet with essays, director interview and more. Presumably on the BFI release, the English subtitles will be removable. Notably, it is the first film from Southeast Asia listed in the BFI catalog.

Syndromes and a Century received a quick-and-dirty DVD issue by Strand Releasing earlier this year in the U.S., and film-lovers have lamented the quality of the transfer. And the oversized, hard-burned English subtitles on the Strand edition are an annoyance.

But, given that the film was tied up in a battle with Thai censors for a year, it's a wonder the DVD came out at all.

Here is the synopsis from the BFI website:

Syndromes and a Century ... is a spellbinding Buddhist meditation on the mysteries of love and attraction, the workings of memory, and the ways in which happiness is triggered. Mesmerisingly beautiful to look at, it is also laced with wonderful absurd humour.

Commissioned by Vienna's New Crowned Hope festival in 2006 and released theatrically by the BFI in September last year, the film established Weerasethakul as one of the most exciting talents in world cinema today.

Dubbed 'a hospital comedy of a somewhat metaphysical bent', Syndromes and a Century is inspired by the Weerasethakul's memories of his parents, both doctors, and of growing up in a hospital environment. The two central characters interact with a bizarre array of professional colleagues and patients with their various strange maladies, including an elderly haematologist who hides her whisky supplies in a prosthetic limb, a Buddhist monk suffering from bad dreams about chickens, and a young monk who once dreamed of being a DJ and now forms an intense bond with a singing dentist whom he believes to be the reincarnation of his dead brother.

It is a film of two halves - the first set in a sunlit rural hospital amid lush, tropical vegetation, the second in a hi-tech urban clinic under fluorescent lighting. Certain scenes from the first half are replayed in the second - almost but not quite identically.

Apichatpong himself describes the film as 'random and mysterious', and, like the work of David Lynch, this film denies obvious interpretation.

The film is available for mail-order from BFI, though Amazon UK has it at a lower price. It'll be released on Monday.

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(Thanks Logboy)

1 comment:

  1. This is great news, because the US release had virtually no extras. We'll have to wait and see about the subtitles, but BFI DVD subtitles are often unremovable.

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