Review Between Tears Of The Black Tiger And Wizard Of Oz

2515 words - 10 pages

Director Wisit Sasanatieng could never live in a black and white world, but he clearly revels in the films made from that period. In Tears of the Black Tiger, he chews up a number of those influences from B-Westerns to silent movies to old Thai melodramas and spits them out on a canvass of exploding colours and visual wit.It's a delirious free fall into a Wizard of Oz technicolor1 dream of film images and styles from the past all exaggerated as if fed on streams of psychedelic drugs. Every scene appears to be a homage to some film genre/style/shot that ate its way into the director's consciousness as he was growing up, but out of this he manages to create a bizarre and beautiful hybrid film that is stunningly original and indefinable. His integration of startling colours, sounds and music make this almost a tone poem on one level, but his sense of the absurd shakes it loose of any potential artistic pretensions and provides a unique eye popping giddy viewing experience.The plot is as clichéd as an orphan's smudged face, but this is no doubt exactly what the director was attempting. Though the narrative plays out in apparent sincerity - and actually is fairly touching at times - Sasanatieng spins visual magic around it and his tongue in cheek playful style is very humorous and always giving the viewer a wink. In a very early scene the director announces his comical intentions when the hero Dum is in a shootout and his enemy is hiding behind a pillar. Dum gages the situation and ricochets a shot into the man. Suddenly a card pops up on the screen in silent film fashion and asks "Do you want to see that again?" and answers its own question by showing in slow motion the bullet ricocheting off a number of things before reaching its intended target. Everything is exaggerated from the villainous laughs to the twirling moustaches to the gobs of blood, but it all has an intended effect of both being homage and being affectionately comical at the same time. Much of the film is pure deranged anachronism - a Western - set in Thailand - in the 1950s. It may not make much sense, but who cares?Dum grows up as the son of a poor farmer and becomes friends with Rumpoey the daughter of a wealthy landowner. This clearly does not set well with her parents and she is sent off to Bangkok to get her away from Dum. A number of years later in Bangkok Dum saves her from a group of leering male students and the two fall in love. They plan to elope but first Dum returns home where he finds a local hooligan has killed his parents. He picks up his father's rifle and goes for revenge, but is rescued from his own death by a friend of his father, Fai, the head of the bandit group called The Black Tigers. Now a wanted killer, Dum joins the outlaws and soon gains a reputation as a steely never miss killer - but he still yearns for Rumpoey and she for him. But she is promised to another man - the man responsible for hunting the Black Tigers down.The action too is exaggerated...

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