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LEGEND OF SURIYOTHAI, THE

SYNOPSIS:
In 16th century Thailand, the noblewoman Suriyothai (M.L. Piyapas Bhirombhakdi) is forced to marry Prince Thienracha (Sarunyu Wongkrachang), brother of King Chairacha (Pongpat Wachirabunjong). Years later, Suriyothai gets caught up in court intrigue when the king's scheming concubine Srisudachan (Mai Charoenpura) conspires to bring her lover Boosri (Johnny Anfone) to power.

Review by Jake Wilson:
Quite possibly every Thai schoolchild knows all about the life and death of Queen Suriyothai, but I have to confess that her existence was news to me. As a reviewer, this puts me at a bit of a loss. As a version of history, is this film any more accurate than, say, Braveheart? Does the portrayal of female warriors have the same contemporary resonance it would in a Western context? How does this tie in with the vaguely homophobic caricatures of butch women and effeminate men?

Having no way to answer questions of this kind, I experienced The Legend Of Suriyothai as a lavishly mounted, occasionally gory and largely meaningless spectacular, on a level with the new Star Wars trilogy or Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle. Not that the filmmaking itself is particularly exotic. Briskly edited and backed by the corny orchestral rhetoric of a sub-John-Williams score, it's far closer to the work of someone like Peter Jackson than to the gravity of an old-fashioned historical saga.

It's a workout for the Steadicam as director Chatrichalerm Yukol pans and tracks incessantly, but for all the battles, betrayals and beheadings, sumptuous palaces and armies of extras, there's little in the way of compelling narrative.

Somehow, it's no surprise to learn that the film was edited down from a mini-series with a much longer running-time: at nearly two-and-a-half hours, this version resembles an epic trailer for itself, but I'm not exactly panting to see the whole thing...

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

LEGEND OF SURIYOTHAI, THE (MA)
(Thailand, 2001)

CAST: Johnny Anfone, Sarunyu Wongkrachang, Marisa Anita, Sorapong Chatree, Mai Charoenpura, Siriwimol Charoenpura, Ronrittichai Khanket

PRODUCER: Kamla Yukol

DIRECTOR: Chatrichalerm Yukol

SCRIPT: Chatrichalerm Yukol

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Anupap Buachand, Stanislav Dorsic, Igor Luther

EDITOR: Francis Ford Coppola, Chatrichalerm Yukol, Patamanadda Yukol

MUSIC: Richard Harvey

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Not credited

RUNNING TIME: 185 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 17, 2004 (Melbourne)







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