Thursday, April 15, 2004

The Elephant Keeper (Khon liang chang)

  • Directed by Chatrichalerm Yukol
  • Starring Sorapong Chatree, Ron Ritthichai
  • Released in 1987; DVD released by Mangpong (out-of-print)
  • Rating: 4/5

This environmentally themed movie is pretty sad, but powerful.

It's about an activist forestry chief named Kamroom who is waging war against the corrupt local police and an influential local timber baron who is conducting illegal logging on the forest. Caught between these two forces is a man (Sorapong Chatree), with an elephant. With Thailand's forests being rapidly depleted and more tightly controlled, it is difficult for the elephant keeper to find work. The more work he finds, the less there will be for him to do. It's a sad paradox.

Directed by Prince Chatrilacherm Yukol, The Elephant Keeper also features songs by the original songs-for-life band, Caravan, and the current kings of the songs-for-life movement, Carabao. Carabao's singer and Beer Chang commercial spokesman, Ad Carabao, has a small part in this movie.

In addition to Sorapong Chatree as Boonsong, the elephant guy, and the guy who plays the hot-headed ranger Kamroon, the best thing in this movie is the elephant, a magnificent animal who is said to possess a sixth sense about which people are good and which ones are evil. This is a trait I believe elephants really do possess, but unfortunately cannot always act on their senses as the elephant in this movie does with violent conviction.

A note about the DVD: Not a very good release. The subtitles are not removable and are done in white lettering against a full-screen presentation. Consequently, they are only readable about half the time.

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