As the Thai adaption of Rashomon – U Mong Pa Meung (อุโมงค์ผาเมือง), a.k.a. The Outrage, is being released in much-hyped fashion this week, the movie's director ML Bhandevanop “Mom Noi” Devakula has been making sure to point out that it isn't a remake of the much-revered classic film by Akira Kurosawa.
As he told The Nation recently:
"We have to be clear that adaptation is not copying or remaking. This film is not Rashomon or The Outrage. Kurosawa's Rashomon is a good film and nobody can do it better. So do not expect to see what you see in Rashomon. They are totally different."
Nonetheless, the international English title The Outage stands, just like 1964 Paul Newman western that was a remake of the Kurosawa film.
The trailer, which was posted earlier, also aims to disassociate U Mong Pa Meung from Kurosawa's Rashomon with a banner trumpeting that it's "from Rashomon, the play by MR Kukrit Pramoj". Watch the English-subtitled version if you don't believe me.
Kukrit, the multi-faceted Thai statesman, actor and writer, translated a Broadway stage version of the story, which was in turn adapted from the Kurosawa movie.
It's all in the name of marketing, since the big "mega movie event" of U Mong Pa Meung is serving the dual purposes of celebrating this year's centennial birth anniversary of Kukrit, as well as the 40th anniversary of studio Sahamongkol Film International.
Mom Noi, who directed Kukrit's stage version back in 1992, has set his Rashomon 500 years ago in the Lanna kingdom of northern Thailand. If the lush mountain setting looks familiar, it's because it's the same location as Mom Noi's blockbuster romantic epic last year, Eternity (Chua Fah Din Salai). It also has the stagebound, breathless melodrama and lavish costuming that audiences of Mum Noi's films have come to expect.
The Thai title, U Mong Pa Meung, refers to a tunnel under a city wall (instead of a city gate, as in the Kurosawa movie), where a woodcutter (Petthai Wongkumlao), a monk (Mario Maurer) and an old man (Pongpat Wachirabunjong) have taken shelter for the evening and they discuss and argue over the news of a murder in the woods and the conflicting accounts of it in the trial that followed.
Ananda Everingham takes the "samurai" role as a nobleman warrior, murdered while travelling with his wife ("Ploy" Chermarn Boonyasak). Dom Hetrakul is in the Toshiro Mifune role as the bandit.
Mom Noi says his version will take a few more twists and turns as it's shaped to offer a moral to contemporary Thai (Buddhist) audiences. Here's more from The Nation piece:
"This film is about man and dharma. Dharma is thammachad [nature] so looking at the people in the film is like watching the murals in the temple, and at some point you might see yourself in it. Anyway, do not try too hard to see 'something'. It is best to just go with the flow of the film.
"Be with the present. Follow the film, don't think of anything else. Do not try to interpret anything while watching the film. Do not think about Kurosawa's Rashomon because once you think about that film while watching U Mong Pha Mueng, it means you are stuck in the past. Try to be 'present' and enjoy the film."