Wild and Worldly: Redefining the ‘Forest’ in Thai Independent Cinema from Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Blissfully Yours to Anucha Boonyawattana’s Malila


The forest is a familiar symbol in Buddhist and Thai folktales. It also appears in various art forms, especially in recent Thai independent cinema. Since Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Blissfully Yours (2002) and Tropical Malady (2004), the forest in Thai cinema has changed its meaning. It was often portrayed as either a fragile space that needed to be protected or a mythical space filled with ghostly spirits and fierce creatures. In Blissfully Yours and Tropical Malady, the forest became a space where desire could be explicitly and freely expressed with no constraints. Since then, the space of the forest has often been explored in Thai independent cinema as an alternative, reimagined space where the marginal can emerge and be liberated. However, in recent Thai independent films the space of the forest has been redefined. Instead of being a space free from constraints, it has been culturally coded, from a dense and wild forest to a cultivated one. In this paper, I would like to take a closer look at two recent films: Anocha Suwichakornpong’s By the Time it Gets Dark (2016) and Anucha Boonyawattna’s Malila: The Farewell Flower (2017), where the forest plays an important part, symbolising conflict and turmoil both in the human mind and in the current political situation of the country.

Author Information
Sopawan Boonnimitra, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
Peerachai Kerdsint, Bangkok University, Thailand

Paper Information
Conference: EuroMedia2019
Stream: Film Criticism and Theory

This paper is part of the EuroMedia2019 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon