Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives DVD
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Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Produced in 2010
Main Language - Thai with English subtitles
Countries & Regions - Asian Film
Jenjira Pongpas, Sakda Kaewbuadee, Thanapat Saisaymar
Alex Davidson hopes that this life-affirming film, in which a man is cared for by spirits, will bring Apichatpong Weerasethakul's beautiful, immersive cinema to a much wider audience.
The wondrous work of Apichatpong Weerasethakul has long delighted and perplexed arthouse audiences, and if there is any justice the Palme d’Or triumph of Uncle Boonmee at Cannes will win the Thai filmmaker a greater audience. No other director produces such sensory and immersive cinema. The opening shot alone, of a buffalo liberating itself from its rope and lolloping across the twilit countryside into the jungle is more mesmerising than anything else produced in the last year.
The film revolves around the dying Uncle Boonmee and two of his visiting relatives. One night they are visited by two spiritual apparitions - Boonmee’s dead wife and his long-lost son, the latter having transformed into a hairy simian entity with glowing red eyes. Both characters appear and disappear throughout the film, as Boonmee remembers his existence in a number of bizarre incarnations.
Weerasethakul’s work often has a trippy quality to it, as anyone who has seen the extraordinary ending to Tropical Malady will testify. Uncle Boonmee, dubbed “Uncle Bong Hit” by roguish Cannes critics, certainly has moments of beauty which feel like hallucinations, including a cave illuminated by glow worms. Some sequences are uniquely weird - the film’s most shocking scene, in which a disfigured princess enjoys passionate bliss with an admiring catfish, is like nothing else in cinema. It is never made explicit which figure represents one of Boonmee’s past existences, with the director allowing the audience to draw their own conclusions.
This may make Uncle Boonmee sound pretentious - or at least, wilfully obscure - yet Weerasethakul manages to make the mysterious events accessible. Unlike his previous work, Uncle Boonmee follows a linear narrative, and is laced with his customary dry wit; the startling visitation of the monkey-esque son is undercut by his aunt’s immediate response - “why did you grow your hair so long?” His lingering shots are so beautifully composed that they are immensely beguiling rather than wearying. Most of all, as with his past work, he manages to make a life-affirming feature which, owing to his inimitable style, never condescends or simplifies. Uncle Boonmee proves that this filmmaker is truly a master of cinema.
Alex Davidson on 7th February 2011
Author of 237 reviews
Suffering from kidney failure, Uncle Boonmee has chosen to spend his final days surrounded by his loved ones in the countryside. He is cared for by the ghost of his deceased wife, and his long lost son returns home in a non-human form. Contemplating the reasons for his illness, Boonmee treks through the jungle with his family to a mysterious hilltop cave - the birthplace of his first life. A beautiful, mysterious film that won its ingenious director the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2010.
Publisher: New Wave Films
Length: 114 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 widescreen
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 28th March 2011
Cat No: NW023
- Short Film
- Extra Scenes
“Am I the Only One?”
by Paul Georghiades on 28th December 2011
In a long and sad career as a lover of world cinema, I don't think I've come across a film where I just didn't get the spirit, the intention. Off the wall, nay, off th... Read on
In a long and sad career as a lover of world cinema, I don't think I've come across a film where I just didn't get the spirit, the intention. Off the wall, nay, off the planet is usually my cup of jelly, and I loved the princess and the fish (for example) who had clearly arrived from another film - but nothing existed except some sketches of really interesting ideas that ultimately hadn't been realised. I occasionally end a teaching block on narrative in literature with teenagers by deconstructing the American storytelling style in film. I would be tempted to use THIS film to show them why the US standard style is so effective & what can go wrong when you go free-form. If you do get it, could you post a review with some hints & I'll forego Satantango for the 9th time to watch this again.... Hide