Thursday, September 15, 2005

Another Ghost Nak movie

Thailand's most famous ghost story, the legend of Mae Nak, has been told on film and television dozens of times, with the most prominent iteration being Nonzee Nimibutr's 1999 film, Nang Nak.

Indeed, it was Nonzee's film that inspired British cinematographer Mark Duffield to pen a screenplay that brings the legend to present day Bangkok. Written in English and then translated into Thai, the result is his directoral debut, Ghost of Mae Nak, which opened today in Thailand.

The film stars Thai television pretties Pataratida Pacharawirapong and Siwat Chotchaicharin as a newlywed couple named Nak and Mak (same names as the couple in the old ghost tale) who come across an antique brooch and an old house that brings them into contact with Mae Nak Phrakhanong -- the ghost wife of the legend. At first she is protective of the young couple, scaring off an unscrupulous real estate agent and a pair of burglars. But it becomes apparent that she wants something from the couple.

Pornthip Papanai portrays Mae Nak, the ghost with a hole in her head (watch Nonzee's film and you'll learn about this). She is best remembered as the slutty female singer in Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's Monrak Transistor. I wonder what she's been up to since then? Jaran Ngam Dee, from historical action epics Bang Rajan and Kun Suk (he also played an Indian rajah in Alexander), is Mae Nak's husband, Mak.

Ghost of Mae Nak is the latest from producer Tom Waller and his company, De Warrenne Pictures, which specializes in hybrid Anglo-Thai films. Before this, Waller produced Butterfly Man (with Duffield doing the lenswork). Next up is The Kingdom of Silence, with Siam Renaissance star Florence Vanida Faivre, due for release in 2006.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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