Foreshadows of Ghosts – The Landscapes of Apichatpong Weerasethakul

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Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thai independent filmmaker, has created an extraordinary experience, vision, dream, meditation with Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.  It won the 2010 Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. 

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul

“Uncle Boonmee” centers on the last days in the life of its title character. Together with his loved ones – including the spirit of his dead wife and his lost son who has returned in a non-human form – Boonmee explores his past lives as he contemplates the reasons for his illness.

The film blends the banal and sublime, death regarded from above and below, darkness taunts from underground, and then light shines through.  It is fairy tale and death march into the psyche, illustrated in caves, waterfalls, stalked by mysterious beings in a world where humans can be seduced by wild animals and even catfish.

What we do know is that every new film from Apichatpong is a reincarnation of his last, of all of his own previous films, video pieces, and installations, and of the entire past of his nation’s filmmaking. And that just because Uncle Boonmee may not have told us everything we might like to know this time around, we shouldn’t be at all surprised if, just because he’s dead, he’s not up and walking around—or floating through the night sky, or swinging through the jungle branches—in one of Apichatpong’s future lives, future films. — Chuck Stephens, “Film Comment”

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, film, Thailand

The Buddho-surrealist jungle story from Thai visionary Apichatpong Weerasethakul won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2010.

Considerations include blinking lights, sterile hotel rooms, and the extinction of the wild.  It’s reflection of past and future existence is an experience to be cherished…or feared.

It is, after all, a film about recurrent visions and round-trip journeys: a movie not just about previous incarnations but about the possibilities of multiple and diverging paths into the future and out of the past; about parallel planes, phantom meanings, ghostly return engagements, interspecies transmogrification, and the double life of each and every Apichatpong movie—where the rarified ultramodern Thai art films of tomorrow and the hoary residues of a thousand cheapo Thai ghost movies of the not-so-distant past always seem to collide in a softly glowing neon chimera of everything cinema might possibly be. — Chuck Stephens


Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Palme d’Or Cannes 2010.

See an interview with Apichatpong Weerasethakul on cargo-film.de

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About Jack Eidt

Novelist, urban theorist, and environmental journalist, Jack Eidt careens down human-nature's all consuming one-way highway to its inevitable conclusion -- Wilder Utopia. He co-founded Wild Heritage Planners, based out of Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com. Follow him on Twitter @WilderUtopia and @JackEidt