a trick of the light : a place for cinephiles

SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY: THAILAND’S EDITION OR WHEN “BABETTE’S FEAST” MEETS “SALO”

by celinejulie  http://celinejulie.blogspot.com

I went to see SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY: THAILAND’S EDITION (2008, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, A++++++++++) on Saturday. I haven’t seen SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY (2006, Apichatpong Weerasethakul) yet.SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY: THAILAND’S EDITION is a unique experience for me. I have been wanting for a long time for movies being censored in Thailand to do something like this-to be upfront about it and tell the audience exactly what parts have been censored or cut off, instead of keeping this fact a secret. Many films which have been censored in Thailand don’t tell the audience that they have been censored. I don’t know why. Maybe the film releasing company thinks that the audience will choose to watch a pirated video instead, if they tell the audience the fact that they have been censored.

By substituting scratched black leader for the censored parts, Apichatpong created a new kind of film experience for me. It’s like the ultimate clash between the fictional world and the real world. Normally when I am watching a fictional film, I forget the real world during that time. The fictional world portrayed in most films makes us forget the harsh realities of our lives. Most mainstream films make me forget the bad governments in Thailand and in many countries, or make me forget the war in Iraq or in Africa, during the time I am watching them.
But while I was watching SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY: THAILAND’S EDITION, the scratched black leader parts kept bringing me back from the heavenly fictional world to the hellish real world. The scratched black leader parts keep reminding me about the reality of the evil Thai censorship board.

The experience of seeing most fictional films for me is like having a good dream or an exciting nightmare. I often feel as if I just wake up to face the real world when I walk out of a theater after a film ends. But while I was watching SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY: THAILAND’S EDITION, it’s like having some tremendously beautiful dreams, but the beautiful dreams are destroyed from time to time when the scratched black leader parts wake us up to face the hellish reality of the Thai censorship board.

In conclusion, the experience of seeing SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY: THAILAND’S EDITION for me is like watching BABETTE’S FEAST (1987, Gabriel Axel) alternating with SALO (1975, Pier Paolo Pasolini). It’s the alternating between extreme pleasures and extreme torture, or extreme feel-good experience and extreme feel-bad experience. I feel as if Apichatpong is like Babette Harsant (Stephane Audran). He wanted to give us a great pleasure, or a taste of heavenly nectar, like Babette who wants to prepare the feast of a lifetime for her villagers. But the scratched black leader parts keep reminding us that the authority in Thailand won’t allow us this kind of heavenly experience. The Thai censorship board want to destroy this feast of a lifetime, and keep torturing us and force-feed us the excrement or things we hate to experience. What the Thai censorship board do to us is like what the fascist do to the teenagers in SALO. But the power of SYNDROMES AND CENTURY: THAILAND’S EDITION is much more than the power of BABETTE’S FEAST and SALO combined, because when I was watching BABETTE’S FEAST and SALO, I didn’t think about myself or Thailand. I didn’t think that I was one of the victims in SALO. The torture in SALO happens to some fictional characters, not me. But when I was watching SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY: THAILAND’S EDITION, I was constantly reminded that I myself was one of the victims in SALO, or the Thai censorship board.

you can watched six censored scene here

http://thaifilmjournal.blogspot.com/2008/04/six-censored-scenes-of-syndromes-and.html

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