Review between Tears of the Black Tiger and Wizard of Oz

Essay by gakuseUniversity, Bachelor'sB, March 2004

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Director Wisit Sasanatieng could never live in a black and white world, but he clearly revels in the films made from that period. In Tears of the Black Tiger, he chews up a number of those influences from B-Westerns to silent movies to old Thai melodramas and spits them out on a canvass of exploding colours and visual wit.

It's a delirious free fall into a Wizard of Oz technicolor1 dream of film images and styles from the past all exaggerated as if fed on streams of psychedelic drugs. Every scene appears to be a homage to some film genre/style/shot that ate its way into the director's consciousness as he was growing up, but out of this he manages to create a bizarre and beautiful hybrid film that is stunningly original and indefinable. His integration of startling colours, sounds and music make this almost a tone poem on one level, but his sense of the absurd shakes it loose of any potential artistic pretensions and provides a unique eye popping giddy viewing experience.

The plot is as clichéd as an orphan's smudged face, but this is no doubt exactly what the director was attempting. Though the narrative plays out in apparent sincerity - and actually is fairly touching at times - Sasanatieng spins visual magic around it and his tongue in cheek playful style is very humorous and always giving the viewer a wink. In a very early scene the director announces his comical intentions when the hero Dum is in a shootout and his enemy is hiding behind a pillar. Dum gages the situation and ricochets a shot into the man. Suddenly a card pops up on the screen in silent film fashion and asks "Do you want to see that again?" and answers its own question by...