Cemetery of Splendour
In his most topical and politically charged film to date, Weerasathekul represents Thailand as a building that used to be a school, a place of study and contemplation, but which has changed into a hospital built on top of a cemetery, where the dead fight out their age-old battle at the expense of the living.
Beyond the hypnotizing hum of fans in the sultry Thai heat and the calming appearance of dreamy apparitions and ghosts, Weerasethakul’s films have always had a political dimension. After the military coup of 2014, here it inevitably pushes more to the foreground. The setting is an old school in Weerasethakul’s hometown, where an improvised hospital has been set up for soldiers suffering from a mysterious sleeping disorder.
The elderly volunteer Jen cherishes one of these young men as the son she never had and a medium reads their dreams. Two goddesses appear in the guise of young women and tell that underneath the hospital lies an age-old cemetery, where rulers of old fight out a pre-historic battle and rob the sleeping young men of their life force. Told in Weerasathakul’s gentle and calmly subversive style, these notes from the underground, besides attesting to his deep love of the culture he grew up in, also represent a fierce indictment of the authoritarian regime. Also see the installation Fireworks (Archives).