This movie is shown as part of the Buddhist Film Festival 2012. The film festival caught my attention when I attended a talk recently at the KMSPKS recently. I did not have a partner to attend the movies with and thus did not pay much attention. Then out of the blues, a friend texted me to invite me to this film and I grabbed at the chance.
This Thai film opens with the beheading of bandit in 1600s AD Thailand. I was shocked by the gory scene of a Buddhist film. A young monk decides to disrobe and leaves his monastery for home. On his way, he meets with a woodcutter and they seek shelter from a storm in an abandon cave. There, they meet an undertaker, so called because he takes care of the dead bodies that were abandoned in the caves. Curious as to the reason why the monk would want to leave monkhood, he probes the two for answers and the story unfolds through flashbacks.
The woodcutter was on his way in the forest when he stumbled upon a woman’s shawl and a hairpin. Then he made the gruesome discovery of a dead body. An investigation followed and a bandit was accused of murdering a warrior and raping his wife.
At the court’s hearing, three versions of how the murder took place was recorded, one by the bandit, one by the lady and another by the dead warrior, through a shaman.
First, the bandit admitted killing the warrior in a dual after the urging of the lady for the two men to fight for her honour.
Next, the lady took the witness stand. The lady described the look of detest in her husband’s eyes after the rape and wanted her husband to kill her, but she fainted and implied that she killed her husband by accident.
Lastly, the warrior, via the shaman, took the witness stand and spoke of his anguish at losing his wife’s love to a bandit and thus he killed himself out of a broken heart.
The monk feels that only one is telling the truth but which one? Then the woodcutter, feeling guilty, admits that he saw the whole murder unfolded. None of the above version heard in court was true.
What was ultimately described by the woodcutter was hilarious. The three persons involved in the murder each had an agenda, dictated by their vain egos. The woodcutter hid the truth because he had stolen the murder weapon and sold it to feed his family.
The movie is beautifully filmed, from the misty forest, scenic waterfall and abandoned temple. I was surprised by the rather explicit sex scene given the Buddhist theme and this being a Thai film, but I could have been misled by it being chosen for this festival. This film could have been shown commercially as well.
Unless one is knowledgeable about Buddhism and ego, the film could be lost to viewers. I am still confused as to why the monk decides to disrobe but later changed his mind when he learned the truth. Can anyone enlighten me?