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February 03, 2011

From the Thai Film Foundation: Forever Yours

Forever_Yours.jpg

Chuafah Dinsalai
Tawee na Bangchang as "Marut" - 1955

Of the films available on DVD from the Thai Film Foundation, several are from Rattana Pestonji. Forever Yours is the one film from the collection that he produced and photographed, but did not direct. A brief excerpt of this film is included in a scene from Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Last Life in the Universe. Film critic Kong Rithdee provided an overview of Pestonji's contributions to Thai cinema during the centennial commemoration of his birth, three years ago. It is also worth noting that one of the supporting roles was by a young man who later became more noted for his socially conscious writings about Thailand, Rong Wongsawan.

The story is about an older timber magnate, Papo, a widower based in the country. After a reported twenty years of living alone, Papa returns from Bangkok with a young bride, Yupadee. While Yupadee is quite gracious to everyone, she soon has eyes for Papo's nephew, Sangmong. The nephew, tall, with his pompadour adding a few inches, seems oblivious to Yupadee's flirting. The young lunkhead finally gets a clue, and the two start seeing each other secretly, or so they think. Word gets around with Papo's household staff, and the older man, catching the two together, grants the couple their with of being together permanently, by handcuffing them.

forever yours .jpg

What caught my attention was that certain parts of the film document an older way of life. The opening shot is of a train carrying the chopped down trees. Later, we see the work force, men and elephants, pushing the trees to be carried down a river. Papo's factory is contemporary enough, yet his right hand man, Tip, does his accounting with an abacus. Away from the urban, more modern, and unseen Bangkok, Forever Yours takes place in what appears to be a remote part of Thailand where western elements are sparingly integrated into daily life, the most conspicuous of these being the wall clock that indicates the times that the lovers meet, and the piano that provides the song, the theme of the film.

Two brief moments also suggest that some things are virtually axiomatic regarding Thai cinema. During the welcoming party for Yupadee, a man flirts with someone seen only from the back. What appears to be a woman shaking her hips from behind turns out to be an effeminate and mustached man once he turns around. The would be suitor decides to go ahead and dances with his newly found partner. There is also a glimpse of a ghost at the end of Forever Yours. The closing scenes of the film could be used as the basis of something similar to many Thai ghost movies.

Even though the basic story for Forever Yours would appear to be familiar, it goes into a direction not expected and certainly not one that would be found in a traditional Hollywood film. There is also a throwaway moment that might catch a western viewer off guard that suggests that while Papo may not have found someone worthy to be his wife, several of his female household staff had served as mistresses. I don't know if this was part of the novel that served as the basis for the film, but there is an ambiguous mix to the main characters, allowing the viewer to almost simultaneously see the conflicting feelings from differing points of view, rather than have the film dictate the sympathies of the audience.

Forever Yours is also available online from Asia Pacific Films.

Posted by peter at February 3, 2011 08:08 AM

Comments

Please try to see the remake Chuafah din salai (Eternity), different from Sivaroj Kongsakul's Eternity (in Rotterdam competition)

Posted by: Anchalee at February 4, 2011 03:01 AM