Blissfully Yours – Apichatpong Weersethakul – Thailand 2002
Viewed ICA cinema 2; 20 – 03 – 05; ticket £6-50Blissfully Yours – Apichatpong Weersethakul – Thailand 2002
Viewed ICA cinema 2; 20 – 03 – 05; ticket £6-50
Apichatpong’s film is an inflowing from another world. A world where there exists a vision of an opening up of bodies to nature in a way that almost inexpressible in the West. Perhaps because ‘nature’ ‘the natural world’ has become for Westerners, if not merely a cartoon backdrop to be exploited, then a metaphore or allegory relating to our own condition rather than place in itself.
In Western cinema/literature, nature is often caste in the role of an allegorical hand maiden, with appropriate signification as hand baggage. Woods, forests, rivers sea shore often enjoy a cameo role – a moment of idyll in a film – a break out from the motivational lines of force driving the characters to the appointed and scripted ends. Sometimes in films like Elvira Madagan nature is used to poignantly offset the machinations of the social machine, or in survivalist Hollywood scripts nature ends up caste in an adversorial role.
Blissfully Yours starts in the town. A quest to solve the problems of the town, trying to sort out the papers of an illegal immigrant. All the usual hassles you get in static unyielding environments governed by beaurocracy. Then suddenly the film takes off. Apichatpong takes to the wing with his camera and flies away from the square static ungiving urban environment. In a series of sensuous languorous tracking shots filmed from the rear window of the car we watch as if on the magic carpet of some magician. the road behind us uncoil like a snake or a tongue or a stiffening penis. In the view from the rear window we leave behind not just the concerns and fixations of the town but move into a new time dimension governed by a different set of beats rhythms and fluxes.
The natural environment of Apichatpong is neither an idyllic nor allegorical place. It is a place where a different governmental order is at work, and in Blissfully Yours the woods and streams and vallies of Western Thailand are place where three characters Min, Rooug and Orn give themselves to this order. They don’t cease to have problems or identities, the subjective world doesn’t change. Simply these things now have different expressive context in which they have another dimension of value. Nor is the forest a place where story has any part to play – this is not a Western style film where the woods are a certain kind of narrative setting for ‘things to happen’. Narrative doesn’t develop in this natural domain. Experience does.
The forest is a place of flow: flow of images and sounds – sometime working together sometimes independently. Water wind the sounds of birds and other animals the flow of life – the ants. In the presence of this fluidity – raked with turbulance, for there is no flow without random occassional congestion and spasm – the three characters Min, Rooug and Orn (I think that two of them were played by non actors) adjust to the flows joining their own fluxes, tears body fluids semen skin urine thoughts so that the roar that is happening about them is happening in them. Nothing essential changes – there are not any answers either to Rooug’s or Min’s problems(some answers to the slight narrative questions[with a political resonance] posed by the characters are given as text during the end titles which is a warm and humane touch; not essential in the context of what we have seen) – the scenario becomes one flow with a multitude of tracks and notes.
In the last sequence of the film Rooug lying at Min’s side by the forest stream her fingers drift to the fly of his shorts open the buttons to reveal his cock. Her delicate lazy movement at last arouses him. The lightness of her finger touch uncoils him as he slowly swells up, flows through multiple forms, a snake transforming to a flower becoming an exotic snail a rich fruit and finally a cock. In its own time another final flowing before we go and know that we can take nothing with us. The forest is one of those machines – you leave everything behind.
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