Welcome to Intro to Film! I’m looking forward to an exciting semester of investigating, exploring, and analyzing cinema with you.
This post is intended to serve as an example of how you might use this blog. My hope that this will be place for experimentation, sharing, exploring, and ruminating—a place where we can write about films, videos, images, and subjects that interest us, both as individuals and as a group.
Here is Phantoms of Nabua (2009), a short film by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul. His practice extends across institutions and platforms, and thus serves as an excellent example of the many ways that “film” operates in the 21st century as a means of storytelling, history, and ideological critique across media forms. Weerasethakul makes award-winning feature films, as well as gallery pieces and installations. This work originally appeared as part of his video installation “Primitive,” a multimedia project that includes a seven-screen installation, an artist’s book, a short film and a feature film. “Primitive” was exhibited in Munich, Liverpool, Paris, and London. Phantoms of Nabua is intended for the web. The film takes place in a town in northeastern Thailand. From the 1960s to the 1980s, the totalitarian government militia occupied this part of Thailand in order to curb communist insurgents. Weerasethakul says: Nabua has an ancient legend about a widow ghost who would abduct any man who enters her empire. The Primitive project re-imagines Nabua, the ‘widow town’, as a town of men, freed from the widow ghost’s empire, and features the male descendants of the farmer communists – teenagers that will lead a journey, fabricate memories, and build a dreamscape in the jungle.
How does the film represent the repression of memories through media? How does the director indicate the historic violence of the Thai dictatorship? How does he use artificial vs. natural light? What is the relationship between analog and digital cinema here? Some of the dualities and associations the film brings to mind are past/present, history/narrative, beauty/fear, play/danger, and the power to destroy/create. Why do you think he exposed the cinematic apparatus, and in particular, the projector? How does he provoke us to think about the very idea of projection: the projector in our classroom, the projector in a theater film; the nature of cinematic projection as a mixture of the filmed past and the viewing present. How does the piece show us the possibilities of what can be done with moving images besides classical three-act narrative structure?
Can there be a cinema without images? Are films phantoms?