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Mysterious Object at Noon (2000)

Dokfa nai meuman (original title)
A film crew documents a folk story-exquisite corpse combination by random Thai people; the story is reenacted.
4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Djuangjai Hirunsri Djuangjai Hirunsri
Kongkiat Khomsiri Kongkiat Khomsiri
Saisiri Xoomsai Saisiri Xoomsai


This film is an experimental mix of documentary and fiction. The film crew travels from the Thai countryside to Bangkok, asking the people they encounter along the way to continue a story about a handicapped boy and his teacher. Written by amirmu

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This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #875. See more »

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Fish sauce abhidharma
7 June 2013 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

An interesting film, more for the idea behind it and moments captured than the overall execution.

A filmmaker rolls around town in search of a story, making the film we see. It begins with long footage of driving around Bangkok, then we segue to the story proper with a woman being interviewed, asked about a story.

The story is made-up, the point is not the story of course, but dismantling the conventional telling. Different people are interviewed who bend the story to their fancy, adding stuff. We are not entirely sure who among them are actors coached on what to say, who are passers-by blurting out what comes in their heads. We can tell that some of it was obviously blocked to be filmed, some covertly staged as real and some stolen from glances but the whole is pretty seamless.

This is an opportunity to film all sorts of activities and splice it together to see what kind of sense comes out; among them an amateur theatric production of the story, a simulated TV interview filmed off the TV, (faux?) newsreel footage, real scenes of boxing, a singing contest and sex show, a scene from the film but the camera keeps rolling through the break. When the crippled boy is assigned a random background by one of the interviewees, in the following scene his teacher acquires the same background of war and family loss.

In the West, we have similar films of stories about stories in Saragossa Manuscript and such, where usually the point is structure, hidden meaning and the divination of self.

In the East, specifically Thailand, they have their own traditions of light storytelling and meta-narrative sorting of concepts, both defined by cultural proximity to India. Among the three 'holy' texts of their native Buddhism is a body of work called Abhidharma, teachings about the teachings. Composed after the Buddha's time, commentaries upon commentaries form a complex, layered web of cataloguing various ontological attributes of reality, phenomena and self. Boring if you ever try to read it.

On a historical note, there is evidence that abhidharmic influence in the north of India in turn rippled West through Persia to influence gnostic thought, and East through the Silk Road as both reaction to its scholasticism and elaboration of it contributed to early Chinese Buddhism. In both cases, the distinction is made between mere intellectual reasoning in the abhidharmic vein, and expansive meditative wisdom that looks directly at things. (respectively, gnosis and prajna)

Anyway, the film has no direct link to all that except as pointing to the mesh of meta-narrative.

And it's cool to note that springing from a Buddhist background, in this film of stories about stories the stories are transient, illusory confabulations, there's no intrinsic meaning or symbolism to them, there's no structure beyond co-dependent arising of narrator and image, and the narrator is neither a single self nor on some journey to enlightenment. Nice, if you don't burden yourself with futilely trying to organize the tangle, just directly look at the wondrous nothingness.

The last story is made-up by schoolchildren, collapsing in a fantastical, meaningless heap of witch tigers and magical swords, illusory child's play.

The closing shots are of children kicking a ball, the rush of actual life outside the stories which is the most mysterious object of all.

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Thailand | Netherlands


Thai | Sign Languages

Release Date:

27 January 2016 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Mysterious Object at Noon See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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