Nang-Nak

Director: Nonzee Nimibutr
Year: 1999
Starring: Inthira Charoenpura, Winai Kraibutr
Time: 101 minutes

Like many films about ghosts, this one is not really so much a horror film as a love story – a deep, clinging obsessive love that matters more than anything else – more than life, more than death. With its tragic overtones, haunting atmosphere and folklore sensibilities, this was really the first Thai film to make a major impact on the international scene when it was released in 1999. It also jump started the career of director Nimibutr who has gone on to become the godfather of the emerging Thai new wave of films as either director (Jan Dara, Three) or producer (Bangkok Dangerous, Tears of the Black Tiger, Bang Rajan). Nang-Nak is a very popular tale in Thailand that has been told many times in the past and has become part of their culture and is believed to be true by many people. From reviews and posts that I have come cross it appears that the audience really falls into two different camps – those that fully buy into the love story and those that simply find the undying love annoying (just die already!). I lean towards the former – the film does feel a bit draggy at times and I felt the film could have been a good ten minutes shorter – but I eventually do succumb to the sheer pain and need of the woman for the man she loves so much.

Mak (Kraibutr) and Nak (Indhira) are newly weds living in a small house on the banks of the Chaopyra River in the 1800s when he is called into military service. As his boat slowly leaves down the river, Nak cries and plaintively yells out his name. There is much more of this to come before the movie’s end. While at war Mak is badly wounded and he is unable to return home for a long while. During his absence Nak and her unborn child both die in childbirth, but her spirit remains behind to wait for her husband to return. When Mak finally makes his way home he sees death all along the riverbank, but Nak and her child are waiting for him. The surrounding villagers attempt to let Mak know that his wife is dead and this is just her ghost – but he won’t believe them – and they soon meet violent horrible deaths. All seems peachy for this couple and their child but eventually the villagers hire an exorcist to destroy the ghost and this leads to a drawn out wrenching ending that will make you think that there is nothing more heartbreaking in the world than the voice of a Thai female crying for her man.

The DVD and VCD has English subs

My rating for this film: 7.5