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Harrison, Rachel (2007) '“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”: Global Projections/Local Allusions in ‘Tears of the Black Tiger’/Fa thalai jone.' Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 8 (2). pp. 194-210.

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When director Wisit Sasanatieng's retro cowboy flick Fa thalai jone (2000) became the first Thai film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2001, under the English-language title Tears of the Black Tiger, Thai cinema seemed to have truly 'gone international'. This paper examines the striking disparity, however, in the reception of the film by local and global audiences, to the extent that Fa thalai jone and Tears of the Black Tiger might arguably be understood as two discrete and divergent cinematic texts at the level of viewer signification. For Western critics, 'Tears…' is unquestionably a piece of postmodern filmmaking, awash with surface aesthetic appeal, intertextual richness and an apparently unrelenting obsession with style that is seemingly devoid of an original reference point. Fa thalai jone, by contrast connotes distinct meanings for Thai audiences, who are more fully attuned to the original references the film pursues and able to read the aesthetic appeal it has to offer in a framework beyond that of the dominant 'force field' of interpretation that postmodernism has come to be in the West. Instead Fa thalai jone offers a homage to Thailand's cinematic past, posing as a 'genuine Thai film' (phaphayon thai thae) and comprehended in terms of an alternative dominant force field of meaning, that of traditionalism and reverence for the past. This paper examines the ways in which Tears of the Black Tiger/Fa thalai jone straddles two alternative interpretive positions in an accomplished move on the part of the director to pursue the globally focused aspirations of modern Thai cinema while remaining idiosyncratically faithful to local sensibilities.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Thai cinema; postmodernism; Thai cultural studies; globalization; critical reception
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of South East Asia
ISSN: 14698447
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2008 11:59

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