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Bangkok Post : History as laughing stock

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History as laughing stock

A new Thai comedy exploiting the incident of Oct 6, 1976 is a product of total ignorance

By: KONG RITHDEE
Published: 23/01/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Realtime

There is a weird - and outrageously ignominious - movie playing in the theatres. It is called Fah Sai Jai Chuen Ban, or Blue Sky of Love. You might have seen its poster, the one featuring a comedian in the deep green Maoist uniform, collar upturned, and with a beret visibly bedecked with a red star. In short, a bozo communist. The film opens with a black-and-white reenactment of the student uprising of Oct 6, 1976. There are gunshots and bonfires, cries and shouts, and for many seconds the fake newsreel image is scary and disturbing, not because of the technique, but because the weight of history the movie deliberately invokes.

The ill-judged so-called comedy Blue Sky of Love has been released at an insensitive time.

Then colours seep in, and we're set up as if on an implacable guillotine when Blue Sky of Love reveals itself as an imbecilic comedy. After fleeing from that feverish protest, the heroine - who keeps whining, like a half-witted schoolgirl who wants a new toy from her mother, that she wants to "fight for the people" - is stuck in a petrol station where a number of tasteless and unfunny gags about a cripple and the "people's revolution" are displayed, without irony.

It only goes from bad to worse - no, it keeps getting badder, as if some desperate director has found a script stashed deep in the attic of an abandoned nuthouse. After the atrocity at the petrol station, the text on screen informs us about the coup d'etat after Oct 6, which prompts a lot of young people to flee into the forest to join the Communist Party. Then we're into the main narrative, a romantic comedy about a boy (pretty and totally daft) who travels with a group of friends, including the cripple and the comedian in the poster, to do some sightseeing the jungle, which happens to be the same jungle that the Communist Party has its camp. There, the air-headed boys have to play along with the ideological comrades since they can't find their way back into civilisation.

Anyway, to say that those "comrades" have ideology is to disgrace real ideologues of all stripes, because those clowns in the film are actually just a bunch of bad actors pretending to be communists. They make jokes about food (a lot of vomiting, for our entertainment!), about acupuncture (a lot of pins on a man's face, for our laughs!) and about guns and axes and capitalism and communism and so on. On top of it all, dear sirs, this is supposedly a love story, though if you really love yourself and your family you should stay as far away from this atrocity as possible.

Perhaps there's a sensible way to make a comedy out of a horrible chapter in history (say, Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful). What we see in Blue Sky of Love, however, is juvenilism of the worst kind, not because of its silly humour, but because it's oblivious to the gravity of history, and because it exploits that history with a nonchalance that borders on irresponsibility and heartlessness. The incident of Oct 6 remains a wound that is felt even by those who weren't there at the time; it is especially felt in the current climate when the country is divided by hatred and imagined differences, like it was 33 years ago. To have a movie like this is like a mockery of tragic history. It could even be interpreted as an insult.

I had a bad feeling when I saw the film's poster, but I decided to see it to give it a fair chance. And I decided to write about it on this page to officially register the existence of its foolishness.

It says a lot about our film industry that a film like Blue Sky of Love has been granted a wide release when many other projects - actually, most student films are more worthwhile than this - struggle to get made or to get into the cinema. Most of all, the existence of this film says a lot about our flawed education on the subject of history. When the dust has never been cleared (so, how many deaths really occurred on that day?), when the truth remains obscure, the young generation will never understand the real burden of history, and we can hardly obtain a moral reason from it. Blue Sky of Love is a product of ignorance. In a time like this, it is almost a crime.

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