Thursday, March 3, 2005

Tropical Malady in London: 'Never show the monster'

Tropical Malady is opening the UK, and there is a retrospective of all of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's films playing in London. He talked to the Guardian.

"It's about suffocation by happiness," explains the soft-spoken 34-year-old director. "The first part is utopian, like a memory that comes in fragments, part fabricated. Blissfully Yours is also about entering a state where you're so happy that you suffer, because later you have the burden of these happy memories that you can't get back."

Memory as a debilitating infection is the tropical malady of the title. Weerasethakul translates the film's Thai title, Sud Pralad, as "strange animal" - a jungle monster with transformative powers. The film was inspired by the adventure tales of Thai author Noi Intanon ("they're Indiana Jones kinds of stories - a hunter goes into the jungle trying to find a white buffalo or hidden treasure") and by Jacques Tourneur, director of I Walked With a Zombie and the original Cat People.

"I wanted a real old-fashioned mood of a horror film. But Tourneur never used a real monster; he would just use a shadow and a sound, and I wanted more monster. In the end, we agreed that Tourneur was right - never show the monster!"

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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