At a press conference last Saturday at the Thailand Cultural Center in Bangkok, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the government would provide funding to make Naresuan 3 and 4, continuing a series of historical epics on the Ayutthaya king who declared independence from Burma 400 years ago.
The third and fourth installments would continue the series by director MC Chatrichalerm Yukol, who's made two Naresuan (ตำนานสมเด็จพระนเรศวรมหาราช) movies so far, both released in early 2007.
Naresuan 1 covered the childhood of the king, who as a boy prince was held hostage in Burma, raised there in the palace and famously taught tactics of war by the Hongsa king. Naresuan 2 depicted the hero's young adulthood and his early campaigns. It was Thailand's submission to the Oscars for 2007.
Chatrichalerm previously made Suriyothai in 2001. The lavishly costumed epic detailed palace intrigue and a queen's sacrifice in a battle leading up to the era of Naresuan.
News articles detailing the government's plans for the Naresuan series are at Sanook and at Deknang's Popcornmag forum.
Prachatai has a translation. Here is an excerpt:
Abhisit said that the legend of King Naresuan was meaningful in Thai history and to the Thai people. The movie is in honor of Her Majesty the Queen on the occasion of her birthday on August 12, and to promote and worship the great king for his bravery, endurance, sacrifice, patriotism and military genius which have contributed to Thai sovereignty up to today, as well as to raise the awareness among Thais to unite and love the country.
The Ministry of Culture is to give support to the production of this movie. The PM hopes that the movie will make Thais worship the monarchy which has contributed so much to the benefit of the Thai people.
Minister of Culture Teera Slukpetch said that the Ministry would use the budget of the Strong Thai Project to support the movie. He would consult Mom Chao Chatrichalerm Yukol on the amount, and ask the Cabinet for approval.
I have heard that around 480 million baht (US$14 million) has been pledged for the sequels, but officials were not confirming that figure on Saturday.
Naresuan 3 has long been in production. There were plans to release it on His Majesty the King's birthday on December 5 last year as well as this year. At one time martial-arts star Tony Jaa was in the cast, but he was reportedly replaced by Dan Chupong.
Earlier this year, the 66-year-old Chatrichalerm, whose popular nickname is Than Mui, fell at his home and fractured his cheekbone and nose. That delayed his work on Naresuan 3.
In photos from Saturday's event, Than Mui was looking hale and hearty. But an item in Soopsip in today's Daily Xpress says the director will need longer to complete his films.
I’m almost 70 now and I just can’t cope with sleep deprivation like I used to,” he says. “I have to take a nap every two or three hours during the shooting.”
Nevertheless, Than Mui is already looking ahead to making a film version of Petch Phra Uma, his favourite novel by Panom Tien.
“The script is almost done,” he says of the collaborative writing effort on the Pantip.com Web board.
If the movie gets made, it would be the first one scripted by a Thai online community. Most of it was written while Than Mui was napping.
Meanwhile, Naresuan fans might want to storm the gates of Than Mui's Prommitr Film Studio in Kanchanaburi province. It's also a historical theme park. Foreigners beware though -- you'll have to pay double (200 baht) to invade.
(Nation photo by Wanchai Kraisornkhajit)