Ethno-cinematographic Rhizomes: Examples From the Independent Cinema of Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Anocha Suwichakornpong


We propose a conceptual framework of filmic analysis, the "ethno-cinematographic rhizome", as a parallel and convergent vehicle of audiovisual artistic creation and para-ethnographic observation of non-Western societies in today’s global era. It is based on the concept of "rhizome" by the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, an "image of thought" that understands knowledge in a non-hierarchical and horizontal way as an apprehension of the multiplicity and expansive horizontality of the real and that is opposed to the dominant epistemological tree-like model. We are going to apply this conceptual framework to two feature films from contemporary Thai independent cinema: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Lung Boonmee Raluek Chat, 2010) and By the Time it Gets Dark (Anocha Suwichakornpong, Dao Khanong, 2016). We emphasize the fragmented rhizomatic structure of these films that present a multiplicity of narrative and chronological lines that are assembled in a complex way to bring out a cinematographic apparatus of high aesthetic beauty and at the same time profound para-ethnographic knowledge of Thai social reality. They combine realistic with surreal and even fantastic elements that show us the daily life of people and ethnic groups of Thai society while exploring its collective unconscious populated by myths, dreams, historical traumas, supernatural entities and hybrid human/non-human beings. We propose that through these films we can capture deep sociological and anthropological knowledge of Thai society if we incorporate the open and expansive epistemological framework of Deleuze's rhizome, becoming perfect examples of our concept of the "ethno-cinematographic rhizome".

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Alvaro Malaina, University Complutense of Madrid, Spain

Paper Information
Conference: EuroMedia2021
Stream: Film Criticism and Theory

This paper is part of the EuroMedia2021 Conference Proceedings (View)
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