Set in 1950 and based on the series of autobiographical short stories by Archin Panjabhan, the beginning finds Archin (Pijaya Vachajitpan) expelled from Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University ...
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Set in 1950 and based on the series of autobiographical short stories by Archin Panjabhan, the beginning finds Archin (Pijaya Vachajitpan) expelled from Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University in his sophomore year. He is packed off to southern Thailand, where he has supposedly has a job waiting for him. It's in a remote, mountainous jungle that doesn't even "rate a spot on the map", a place that is little but all-consuming red mud and seemingly endless, torrential downpours. Archin arrives, letter of recommendation in hand, at the mining company office, only to be told that there are no jobs. The company's superintendent, Sam, a stern Australian veteran of the Death Railway who asks Archin if he is willing to do manual labor. Archin answers to the affirmative and he's hired. He's even given a house of his own, (which happens to haunted). Everyone, from the lowliest Malaysian laborers to John, the burly chief of the mining staff, derides Ajin as a "Bangkok boy" who isn't fit for hard work ... Written by
Set in 1950s after WWII, The Tin Mine is set in Southern Thailand, and chronicles the lives of tin miners as seen through the eyes of Arjin Panjapan (Pijaya Vachajitpan), whose autobiographical short stories form the basis of this movie. It's no wonder, after watching this movie, that it's Thailand's official entry in the Best Foreign Language film category for this year's Academy Awards.
Our protagonist, Arjin Panjapan, dropped out of the university and found himself looking for a job, any job, for survival. Leaving Bangkok, he makes it down south and hooks up with a group of tin miners, and because of his attitude of willing to do just about anything, he's hired on the spot, and there on learns that life is much more than just a piece of paper telling you about your educational qualification, but it's the ups and downs that one experiences, which will shape your life forever.
What I particularly liked about this coming of age story, is actually how it's evenly mapped out into the 4 years of his life spent on the dredger and small mining town. From rookie to senior, the movie chronicles Arjin's life in short episodes, sometimes dwelling on certain memorable scenes, while others looked more into the characters he deals with everyday. In the tin mining town where everyone knows everyone else, and there are few gathering and entertainment spots, it's the characters that helped to bring out the flavours in the movie.
Watching how life, no matter how hard and difficult it is, unfold on the dredger, makes you wonder if your own work environment has it that difficult. But it's always the camaraderie and team spirit, that helps make any environment, worth working in. Working hard and playing as hard should be the mantra, as we see how this is practiced throughout the ranks, never mind if one is the CEO, or the lowly servant.
Infused with plenty of comedy and touching moments as well, the characters make this movie work. Like the scrooge like shopkeeper (Jumpol Thongtan), the cock-sure supervisor who speaks a smattering mix of Thai and Behasa Melayu John (Niran Sattar), and the burly yet child like assistant Kai (Sonthaya Chitmanee).
It's a pity that this movie only had a limited run in the theatres this year, and sadly I've actually missed it then. It's something worth watching in the cinemas, even though its narrative style sticks to the formula of coming of age films, this one had a certain heart and soul to it all. Watch it if you have any opportunity!
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