23.5.10

Apichatpong #4, or: past lives







Ghosts will appear under certain conditions, when it is not quite dark and not quite light (at the break of dawn or twilight). At first the dead don't realise that they are dead. When they pinch themselves, it still hurts. They think they still have their own bodies. But it's just an illusion; all in the mind. They walk around talking normally to people, but no one takes any notice, no one can see or hear them.




A.W. sketching the Monkey Ghost, 2009, via @Chaisiri_T




As far as I can remember, the story went something like this: The main character was a man with a travelling cinema show, he made open-air presentations in villages and temples. One day a very mysterious man hired him to show a film in a temple that was a long way off. By the time he had arrived and set up the projector and film screen, it was after dark. Gradually people started to arrive in the darkness. While the film was running, the audience all sat still in an orderly fashion, their eyes looking up at the screen. They did not show any emotion, nor did they speak to one another until the film ended. Then they all got up and wandered away. At dawn the next day the film-show owner realised that he was in the middle of a cemetery, and that he had been paid to show a film for ghosts.
When I finished reading this story, I felt sad: even ghosts wanted to watch films, just like everyone else. They were ghosts that still wanted to dream; they paid their final offering of money to buy dreams, which was film. If you notice the people around you while watching a film, you will see that their behaviour is like that of ghosts, lifting up their heads to look at the moving images in front. The cinema itself is like a coffin with bodies, sitting still, as if under a spell. The moving images on the screen are camera records of events that have already taken place; they are remnants of the past, strung together and called a film. In this hall of darkness, ghosts are watching ghosts.

--Apichatpong Weerasethakul, "Ghosts in the Darkness", A.W., Filmmuseum Synema Publikationen 12, 2009, p.113. [Above: The Memory of Nabua, p.192; Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Below: A Letter to Uncle Boonmee; Tropical Malady.]








1 comment:

FG said...

Very beautiful text about this great film. Actually maybe we just watch films to project ourselves into an over natural state right over the screen.

Fernando Ganzo (www.elumiere.net)