Wednesday, December 30, 2015
In Thai cinemas: Pantai Norasingh, Snap continues
Before his name become synonymous with a brand of shrimp paste, Pantai Norasingh was known as a man who kept his word.
As the story goes, Singh was an oarsman on the royal barge of King Sanpetch, "the Tiger king", during the Ayutthaya Period.
One day, while steering in the fierce river current, Singh lost control and the boat slammed into a tree, breaking the bow. The penalty was death. No ifs, ands or buts.
The king, witnessing that the barge crash was obviously an accident and not wanting to lose one of his best, most loyal men, objected. However, the dutiful oarsman insisted that no exception be made, otherwise, he reasoned, public respect for the law and the crown would be undermined.
He was executed, and the king paid tribute to him by having a shrine ritually installed in the bow of the royal barge.
Veteran director MC Chatrichalerm Yukol presents this story in Pantai Norasingh (พันท้ายนรสิงห์), as the latest in his long line of historical epics on Ayutthaya Period royals, which started in 2003 with Suriyothai and continued with the recently wrapped-up six-part Legend of King Naresuan series.
Filmed at Chatrichalerm's Prommitr Studio in Kanchanaburi, Pantai Norasingh has all the hallmarks of his earlier productions, with lavish period costumes, palatial sets and all the right props, including an entire fleet of replica royal barges. It's all presented in clear, high-definition photography.
In addition to using the same sets and costumes as the Naresuan films (as well as the zombie movie Phi Ha Ayodhaya), there's also some of the same cast, with Naresuan himself, Royal Thai Army Lt-Colonel Wanchana Sawasdee, portraying the Tiger King. Pongsakorn "Toey" Mettarikanon portrays the dutiful sailor.
The story of Pantai Norasingh has been presented in film and television before. One version was made in the 1940s by Chatrichalerm's grandfather, and had pioneering Thai auteur R.D. Pestonji running the camera.
According to Soopsip in The Nation, Chatrichalerm had originally intended his Pantai Norasingh to be broadcast on television, but when he and the station could not agree on the best time to show the series, he took it back and re-edited it into the feature we now have before us.
Meanwhile, Kongdej Jaturanrasmee's Snap (แค่..ได้คิดถึง, Kae .. Dai Kit Tung) is continuing its nightly sneak preview run before adding daytime shows tomorrow in a wider release. I've already reviewed it, and I think it's one of the best Thai films of the year. More on that in the next week or so.
Further new releases this week are detailed at the Bangkok Cinema Scene.