Review: ‘Stories From the North’

Nine pastoral segments reflecting the vanishing lifestyle of villagers in rural Thailand, "Stories From the North" is multi-hyphenate Uruphong Raksasad's tribute to the land of his childhood.

Nine pastoral segments reflecting the vanishing lifestyle of villagers in rural Thailand, “Stories From the North” is multi-hyphenate Uruphong Raksasad’s tribute to the land of his childhood. Attractive docu suffers from the limitations of Beta, but there’s a heartfelt warmth tinged with nostalgia that proves quietly affecting once it’s apparent Raksasad is going for poetic impressions without much connecting tissue. Fest life, though no more, is assured; pic picked up the digital prize at Jeonju.

Each segment is given a basic heading, such as “March of Time” (a slow march at that), “The Musician,” etc., all following the course of a day from morning to night. A farmer tends his water buffalo, children recount ghost stories, and an elderly woman looks forward to death. With youth abandoning the village for city opportunities, there’s a sense of anticipatory loss, all present and no future, suffusing the entire collage. Though the digital format can’t capture all the rural beauty, certain images linger, such as clouds cascading over mountains and a father and son hacking through tall grasses. Sound is middling, and too much of the spare dialogue is left unsubtitled.

Stories From the North

Thailand

Production

A Plapen production. Produced, directed, written, edited by Uruphong Raksasad.

Crew

Camera, (color/B&W, Beta), Raksasad; music, Thipratri Pirompak, Jaral Manophet. Reviewed at Turin Film Festival (competing), Italy, Nov. 15, 2006. (Also in Vancouver, Viennale, Jeonju film festivals.) Running time: 88 MIN.
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