Tonight I had the pleasure of watching Hom Rong, a Thai movie based on the life of Luang Pradit Pairoh (Sorn), a much revered Thai music master who played the Thai Xylophone (Ra-nad) when he was a young child and found his life calling.
The film traces his tumultuous childhood through loosing his brother and following him through to adulthood during the reign of King Rama V, exploring the near demise of Thai golden-age music while Thailand was under Japanese occupation during WWII.
At the time, Field Marshall Plaek Pibulsongkram attempted to make Thailand ‘civilised’ and banned many cultural norms in a bid to make Thailand more westernised – an ideal that at the time was seen as a positive move for the country.
In a somewhat controversial stand against the government and it’s new laws, it sees Sorn stand up for his beliefs in the name of music, and his cultural philosophy which (paraphrased) are like the roots of a tree. In a big storm, if all the roots are dead, the tree will topple, but if they are nourished it will withstand the biggest storms.
In a visually arresting way, the film switches between various parts of his life, and shows how through dedication and pure skill he manages to become the best Ra-nad player in Thailand, congratulated by the king.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the film was the discovery of the ‘accelerated modernism’ dictated by the government throughout world war two, and the impact it had upon Thai culture – something which still saddens Thai’s today.
The film enjoyed many awards, including (alL 2004) Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Adul Dulyarat), Best Cinematography (Nattawut Kittikhun), Best Editing (Ittisoontorn Vichailak), Best Screenplay (Peerasak Saksiri, Ittisoontorn Vichailak, Dolkamol Sattatip) and Best Sound.
I would recommend this movie to anyone interested in Thai history, with a rating of 7/10.
IMDB rates the film at 7.9 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0415046/