21 September 2014

Once Upon A Celluloid Planet

Once Upon A Celluloid Planet
Once Upon A Celluloid Planet: Where Cinema Ruled - Hearts and Houses of Films in Thailand is a unique photographic guide to Thailand's stand-alone cinemas, movie palaces from the pre-multiplex era. Sonthaya Subyen and Morimart Raden-Ahmad have photographed more than sixty cinemas, documenting their marquees, box offices, auditoriums, and projection booths. Many of these once-luxurious movie theatres are now derelict (such as Siam Theatre, destroyed by arsonists in 2010), though the splendid Scala cinema remains in business.

The book also includes nostalgic essays by writers and directors, such as Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who ends his piece with this comparison: "Tens of thousands of years ago, when our ancestors were living in caves, they often drew on the walls of the cave, showing us how they lived their lives. It seems to be an unknown force in our blood. Looking at it like this, you could say that cinemas, whether inside or outside department stores, are our modern day caves."

There are also chapters devoted to unusual forms of film promotion, from glass slides to painted mud flaps. The 500-page book - a valuable record of social history, film culture, and architecture - is part of the Filmvirus series, which also includes a monograph on Apichatpong, Unknown Forces. (A Century Of Thai Cinema, by Dome Sukwong, also features a few pages of vintage cinema photographs.)

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