Places + Locations | 1970 | Sound | Colour
This film is about how the Thai people were living in the early seventies 1970's
Hands pick green rice plants from under the water. Caption: "Mainland South-East Asia: Thailand". Row of women picking plants from under the water. Long shot of the paddy field, 2 cows drive a plough type machine, driven by one man. Narrator - Asia consumes approx 200 million tonnes of rice per year. Closeup of bundle of rice in worker's hand. More workers bending over the crops. Narrator - Thailand produces surplus rice. Boat full of rice being punted along by a Thai man.
Farm buildings. Bundles of rice outside. Cattle being driven. Narrator - Thailand not as densely populated as most of Asia, therefore there is a food surplus which can be exported. Also they have a good river network for irrigation purposes. We see broad, flat valleys with crops growing. Waterwheel provides primitive irrigation. Thai man pushes more modern irrigation machinery towards the camera - water sprays out either side of him. Water spray. Fields as heavy rain comes down. Narrator - rain doesn't come often enough for rice crops so irrigation is a necessary investment.
Illustrated map of Thailand, showing mountain range to the East which blocks the monsoon winds. Burma shown to have twice as much rain as Thailand. Narrator - population is most dense where irrigation is best utilised eg Bangkok at the mouth of the river Chao Phraya.
Cut to wobbly and flickery shot of Bangkok's rush hour. Driver of bus. Street market. Wares on the floor and people sit among them. Large pots line the walkway. Children walk down a road where there are open shop fronts. Shopkeeper and a tale full of cloth. His shop sign is in Thai, Chinese and English. Outdoor restaurants - women cook over small fires on the floor. Closeup of roasted bananas cooking on a small barbecue.
Steps of bungalow on stilts built into the canal. A Thai schoolboy (we are told he is middle-class) washes himself with soap. He plunges into the water. Cut to his sister, crouched by a running tap and cleaning her teeth. Inside, their mother steams many pots of rice inside a large, metal pan. Father, smartly dressed in western style clothing and carrying a folder, walks along the veranda of his house. We are told that he is the assistant manager of a teak wood export company.
Cut to an elephant with a Thai handler riding on his back. Elephant is wrestling with a teak log which it carrys in its trunk and tusks. Two other elephants push a log forward with their trunks. See trainer tapping behind the elephant's ear with his foot- this is how they give instructions. Narrator- elephants begin their training at age 14 and are ready for heavy work at age 25. Three elephants drag a teak log. Log beaing hoisted onto the back of a machine. Log in cutting machine - bark is removed. Log cut into planks. Narrator - Thai teak is considered to be the best in the world. Elephant and rider in silhouette. Sun setting behind them. Two elephants in the middle of a lake or river. Elepahnt keeper washes an elephant's tusk.
White building raising the Thai flag. Many children all wearing white uniforms (including the two seen in their middle-class home previously). All say prayer of allegiance as if praying. Narrator - Thailand's schooling is advanced for an Asian country. Children file into a classroom, they bow before doing so. Also, the children remove their shoes (which is a custom when entering a building as feet are considered base in Buddhist teachings). Narrator - removing shoes keeps the floors clean (I would assume this is more of a coincidence than a reason. Narration not as knowledgable as is trying to appear?). Children seated at rows of desks. Blackboard at the front of the class - much like a western school. Some children kneel around the teacher's desk.
Male teacher talking about aerodynamics. Childrens' text book. Teacher writes on board. Narrator - Thai alphabet is modified from the Indian. Boy stands and addresses teacher. Children playing a game in physical education class.
Motorboat carrying children along a canal. Floating market. Large cluster of traders in paddle boats selling colourful items, eg vegetables, fish etc… Many shots of cargoes of various types and of the vendors. Closeup of Thai men talking and smoking. Children disembark motor boat. They are on a field trip to a local temple, Wat Arun (temple of dawn). It is a large, white building with an ornate, gold roof. Two statues stand guard next to the doorway pillars. Many gilded figures representing mythical figures and demons adorn the temple sides.
Buddhist monks (orange robes, shaven heads) produce the alms they have collected. All the food goes into a large pot. Queue of monks being given food by a line of ladies standing behind cooking equipment. Many monks seated at outdoor tables, eating. Insence sticks being burnt by members of the public. Closeup on prayer sticks and gifts of money.
Religious procession, King at the centre of a group of men in white (military uniforms). People are seated on the path all around him and he collects gifts and flowers. Narrator- he is King only in name as a revolution removed Royal absolute rule.
Bangkok rush hour. Bus driver. Two children return to their home. Closeup of their feet as they remove their shoes. Mother is cleaning a metal pot on the wooden steps of the bungalow. The daughter goes to assist. Closeup of two hands washing a plate. The two converse. Boy goes to see his father who is in a barber's shop having his hair cut. Mother grinds a chilli pepper in a mortar and pestle. She lights a charcoal stove. She stir fries some food. Meal is laid out on the floor. Family sit around it. Mother removes fly cover. They all eat, starting with the plain rice as is custom. Father now wears traditional thai dress. Bangkok has TV. Family watch the Royal Thai Dance Company - v. traditional. Narrator explains that this exemplifies Thailand - a mixture of the old and the new. Dancers - all wear elaborate, traditional costume. The End.
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