Soon after nightfall when the crepuscular violets concede to blackness, the wind’s rustling intensifies and the boys come out to play. Such is the elemental setting of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Phantoms of Nabua, the Thai filmmaker and artist’s wraithlike and mysterious portrait of the town of Nabua in northeastern Thailand. As a tall fluorescent lamppost stands upright, canted at an angle with its Flavin-like tubing shining down upon the scene, a makeshift screen displays images of a town: a town being zapped by frequent flashes of lightning, a town lit up by simulated sparks of destruction and jolted into a reawakening, a town resuscitated through representation. Teenaged boys crowd around in the foreground, kicking a ball engulfed in flames, whose gleaming embers scatter across the playing field, not unlike shellfire in a battlefield. As their passing grows increasingly spirited, the incendiary light show becomes a spectacle of apocalyptic beauty, and the screen is suddenly set ablaze, producing a blinding void. The scrim’s melting disappearance exposes the projector, which continues to beam its light-travelling images directly at us, with no surface to receive them. They remain transient, immaterial, afloat like memory.
In its study of time, place and remembrance, as much as in its strangeness, Phantoms of Nabua extends many of the recurring themes from Weerasethakul’s internationally celebrated feature films into a more politically conscious terrain. Nabua was the site of a bloody battle between local communist farmers and the Thai totalitarian government in August 1965, resulting in a longstanding and brutal occupation by the army. Much of this grim history remains little known, but its spectres haunt the recent state of political turmoil in Thailand. Shooting in a former land of fear and recording what risks extinction, Weerasethakul engages the local boys, capturing their masculine juvenescence in light and in shadow – darkness rife with connotations. A film about illumination, ghosts, time, reincarnation and transformation, Phantoms of Nabua is also about the cinema, which uses light to show us how beauty and violence can co-exist. —tiff.net
Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul (Thai: อภิชาติพงศ์ วีระเศรษฐกุล; born July 16, 1970) is a Thai independent film director, screenwriter, and film producer. His feature films include Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, winner of the prestigious 2010 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or prize; Tropical Malady, which won a jury prize at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival; Blissfully Yours, which won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard program at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival; and Syndromes and a Century, which premiered at the 63rd Venice Film Festival and was the first Thai film to be entered in competition there.
Working outside the strict confines of the Thai film studio system, Weerasethakul has directed several features and dozens of short films. Themes reflected in his films (frequently discussed in interviews) include dreams, nature, sexuality (including his own homosexuality), and Western perceptions of Thailand and Asia, and his films… read more
(Phantom and Light) are two things that bited.Light may look friendly while lightning is even more destructive. Typical Apichatpong Weerasetakhul, one element can be viewed from two aspects together. art work!
Nagngingitngit na init ng apoy at talas ng anino ng nakaraan. Sipa. Sipa-sipain ang bola. Babalik, gugulong. Sipa. Sipa. Liyab.
This is cinema stripped down to its most primitive and elemental form a la the projected shadow shows in Plato’s allegory of the cave. Civilization, represented by the ball of fire with which the young… read review