Film: 7753

Places + Locations | 1960 | Sound | Colour

Synopsis:

A glossy and commercial look at Thailand before it became a popular tourist destination 1960's

Blue sky and kite flying. Credits appear over an illustrated picture of a pagoda. Oriental-style music. Credits end.
Focus on Bangkok Airport building. Pan Am aeroplane arrives. Passengers disembark - mostly Thai in appearance. City street - broad and modern. Cars of all types drive past. Narrator - Bangkok is a modern metropolis with 1 and a half million inhabitants. Cut to a narrower street. Cars are more congested and there are also cyclists and tuk-tuk drivers. Busy street. Many thai people walk by, some carrying large bags on their heads or across their shoulders. Narrator - Thailand literally means 'Land of the free'. Cut to a canal (klong). Rowing boats with merchandise (vegetables mostly) at the rear of the frame. Motorised boat carrying occidental tourists (sorry, couldn't resist). Narrator - 80 percent of the internal traffic travels by water. Cut among various boats containing western tourists. All have cameras. Small Thai boy in another boat waves at the camera.
Bungalows on stilts built into the river. Many different house fronts, small boats moored outside and verandas. People on veranda platforms.
Boats go past. Cut to a family bathing outside their bungalow. The father waves. Cut to a larger stretch of the river. A paddle boat makes its way down, its cargo is brightly coloured - possibly flowers. Tourist boat. Thai woman unloads her boat onto her house front. A man and child bathe at the front of their bungalow. A child plays in the water. A man loads his boat. On the veranda, two children wave at the camera.
Floating market. Many paddle boats are gathered, mostly laden with fish or vegetables. Shoppers, some with empty boats, draw up around them. Many shots of the different wares and the vendors. Narrator -floating farmers look different, but all of them own their own land. Tourists taking photos of market.
On shore, Buddhist monks collect alms, all wear identical orange robes and have shaven heads. Motorboat filled with robed priests. Narrator - every man has to spend some time as a monk to learn humility and religious teaching.
Temple with gold roof, stone lions guard the door. Four men approach the entrance. Street - two canons in the foreground. In the background, the highest temples of the King's Golden Palace can be seen over the white wall which surrounds it (this is in Bangkok). Inside palace grounds - slow pan down ornate, jewelled tower in King's residences. Shown again from a different angle. Four monks walk barefoot around the base of the building. Gargoyle-like figures on the side of another tower, positioned as though holding up the building. Golden icons from mythology. Blue gargoyle figures. Thai classical dancers in colourful and elaborate costume perform ancient ritual dances to ward off evil.
Steps of a large temple can be seen in the background. Closeups of the dancers' hands and feet. Oriental music.
A large swimming pool. Many thai people in smart, western style dress look on as models display various garments fashioned from cotton and silk. Outfits are mostly western in style although some could be based on thai traditional dress.
Aerial view of a beach - white sand, calm sea and trees surrounding. Three people sunbathing - two thai women and an ocidental male. Narrator - visitors to the coastal areas are mostly thai, although 6 percent are chinese, some malayan and some indian. However, the influence of the west is reaching everywhere. Thai women in the sea, smiling.
Woman in silk weaving at a large loom. Woman sits cross-legged on whicker mat, making pottery. A parrott sits on her shoulder. Closeup of her hand applying red glaze. Cut to the hands of other artisans, crafting silver. Cut to woman painting a silk umbrella, other finished items are displayed behind her. Narrator - the excellence of one's parasol is a measure of social standing.
Market - outdoor but under a cover. Pots and statues can be seen outisde the tarpaulin. Inside - copper bowls and dishes, lanterns and porcelain plates, cabinet full of decorated plates, large decorated vase, sculpture of deity's face, gold statues. Western woman practices her bargaining skills with a thai vendor. He is selling gold statues. Thai woman smiles. Western couple examine an ornamental sword. Stall holder talks to them. Wife and stallholder discuss the price.
Thai man, seated and chiselling wood. Finished carvings of elephants can be seen to his right. Closeup of elephant carving. Fades into real elephant being ridden by a thai man. The elephant is chained and drags a large log along behind it. A second elephant pushed the log forward with its trunk. Two elephants push a large teak log off the back of a truck. Two female elephants roll a log on the ground.
Fades into stack of identical white kites. Men- all dressed alike in brown slacks and white T-shirts fly the kites. Different kites. Narrator - kites represent Siamese men. Cut to female kites "frivolous and wriggling" (hmmmmm) and pink. The men and women play a game, each trying to ensnare the others' kites.
Rajadamern stadium. Two men practice thai boxing to a packed house. Many of the spectators are western. One boxer knocked out. Cut to two men in costume acting out a sword fight (on the same steps where the thai dancers were previously seen). Narrator - this violence was necessary in the thirteenth century. One of the swordsmen is knocked to the ground.
Large, ornate temple (possibly in the grounds of the palace). Pan down to reveal a procession led by monks and followed by many costumed men. Others carry the coffin of a High Priest - nationally important ceremony. Shots of temples and decorated towers (seen previously). Monks approach a large temple where two huge ornamental figures appear to be on guard. Narrator - Thailand is a dream for the modern traveller. The End.


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