Cemetery of Splendor

2015

Drama / Fantasy

63
IMDb Rating 6.8 10 3,919

Synopsis


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1.08 GB
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Thai 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
122 min
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2.23 GB
1920×1080
Thai 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
122 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Sergeant_Tibbs 8 / 10 / 10

Past and present flowing as one.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul had been on my radar after the elusive critical praise for his earlier work that seem fit only for lists like They Shoot Pictures. He doesn't seem to satisfy general audiences in the same way, despite winning at Cannes for Uncle Boonmee. Ostensibly his most personal film, Cemetery of Splendour seemed like a good start. It was certainly an introduction to his ambiguity which Splendour indulges in at every opportunity. It's very rich with its themes, though you have to go with the flow on its spirituality, belief in past lives and superstition, but those themes don't necessarily feel like they string together. More knowledge on Thai politics, history and culture would certainly help to arrive at a concise interpretation, but it does have enough universalities. There is, however, a fascinating way it contrasts past and present simultaneously. That's its best ambiguous angle. Each shot can be its own individual thought rather than giving myself headaches trying to piece it together. Weerasethakul at least has a wonderful sense of poetic composition and juxtaposition, his choice of a rainbow light aiding him in many senses. But besides the calm and often profound nature of the film, what makes it strike a nerve is the deeply resonating performance from his lead Jenjira Pongpas. She balances humour with empathetic emotion with nuanced ease and anchors the film in her relateability despite her unique situation with her tumurous leg. Cemetery certainly gives a lot to chew on. 8/10

Reviewed by Albert_Orr 8 / 10 / 10

A Mysterious Bout of Narcolepsy

Cemetery of Splendour is a serene and mystical meditation on spiritual connection and dreaming. But Weerasethakul's first feature since 'Uncle Boonmee' will not be for everyone - it will either send you into deep spiritual contemplation, or send you to sleep. The setting is a makeshift hospice in Thailand for soldiers with Narcalepsy; a sleeping condition in which patients are almost always asleep. Jen, a middle-aged woman with a physical impairment, is assigned to look after one of the soldiers as a volunteer. She rubs cream into his muscles, and takes him out for meals when he is awake. But beneath the ebb and flow of life at the hospice, there are other spiritual forces at play; talk of an ancient cemetery, and the spirits of kings and goddesses. The film is shot beautifully. The camera stays fixed in wide angle - each scene being a window through which the characters enter and connect, reminiscent of the work of Bela Tarr. I think the camera moved twice the entire film. Cemetery of Splendour is most definitely a slow burner. I'd go as far as to say that it doesn't really reach any heights of dramatic or narrative tension. The film is much more of an experiential, moody piece that lingers and floats like light sleep. I didn't quite understand it, and I almost fell asleep, but if the film is exploring Narcolepsy, then I think that's the point...

Reviewed by allison-chhorn 8 / 10 / 10

Hypnotising Cinema at its Best

Weerasethakul's films always grow on me; I keep thinking about them long after I've seen them, and Cemetery is no exception. Its his most restrained, most suggestive and most self-reflexive, almost to the point of hyper-reality. We never see the ghosts or spirits that appear in his previous films, instead the gods appear in the flesh. In one scene, we see two young women come up to Jenjira, our main protagonist, and after talking for a bit she realizes they are the gods she was praying to earlier. In another instance, after a sleeping soldier's "personality" is transferred to the body of a psychic girl, he/she shows Jenjira the place of the palace, which we see is actually a public park with statues about. The royal bathroom is a layer of leaves on the ground. Jenjira is an older woman with a disabled leg and no children of her own. She becomes attached to one particular soldier in the corner of the school room, who suffers from a form of sleeping sickness. Since no family visits him, she stays by his side as if she was his own mother. In their first meeting, the psychic girl tells Jenjira about her abilities; how she is able to tell the soldiers relatives what they're up to in their sleeping lives. She also tells Jenjira how, in her own past life, she was a boy who fell from a tree and died. This is the same story in "Syndromes and a Century", where the dentist tells the story of his brother who fell and died from climbing a tree. These stories seem to repeat themselves for Joe, (the director's nickname), as he himself has said, its a story that he keeps hearing in this same village. The psychic girl tells Jenjira to open her eyes wide, as if all the strangeness and otherworldly things are all visible in the real world if we look hard enough. The somnambulist pacing of the film reflects the atmosphere of the sleeping soldiers in this small Thai village. The fans in the schoolroom, the propellers in the water, the beautiful neon glow of the machines that help the soldiers have better dreams, we watch as they slowly change color. Its as if Joe is hypnotizing us as well. In a surreal scene, Jenjira and the soldier, Itt, are at the cinemas watching a film that is the total opposite of Cemetery; full of explosions, b-grade special effects and fast action. The angle is from behind, with part of the film in frame. It instantly reminded me of Rene Magritte's painting "Not to be Reproduced" (La Reproduction interdite, 1937). We are watching a film, watching them watch a film. After the film ends, the audience members stand up waiting for something. They wait for what seems like an absurd amount of time, as if they were standing up asleep. (They are actually waiting for the King's Anthem, but it never arrives.) A hint of political criticism. Despite all the subtle layers intricately embedded in his films, sometimes I think Joe just wants to promote good health and happiness. We see people exercising in the public park, similar to the enigmatic ending of "Syndromes and a Century", albeit this time to more laid back music provided by DJ Soulscape. He is always able to capture a specific time and place while at the same time referencing past lives, as if both co-exist. If this is the first film you have seen from him, it may be difficult to access, but fans of his previous work will enjoy this more subtle, but nonetheless, absorbing film.

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