สนับสนุนโดย สำนักงานศิลปวัฒนธรรมร่วมสมัย กระทรวงวัฒนธรรม Supported by Office of Contemporary Art And Culture ,Ministry Of Culture

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Live and Learn at The Tin Mine

 

 

 

Sorradithep Supachanya 17 June 2005

   
 

For many people, college is the best four years of their lives. For 22-year-old Archin Panjabhan, expulsion from college is the best thing that has ever happened to him

In 1949, an expelled engineering student Archin Panjabhan was sent to work in a tin mine at a backward town, where rains never stopped pouring and alcohol never ran dry. There, he learned what no universities could providelifes most important lessons of determination, respect, honesty, and friendship.

The Tin Mine is Jira Malikuls sophomore directorial effort. It stays true to Archins collection of over 140 short stories about his three-year-and-eleven-month experience there by dividing up the narration into four parts, one for each year in this tin mine university.

To me, this is the films weakest point. Condensing everything that has happened in the span of four years into 120 minutes of choppily edited footage results in a movie that moves too quickly and skips essential parts that enrich characters backgrounds and motivations. By covering too many events, The Tin Mine loses its potential to be one of the best screen adaptations of one of the best Thai literary works.

For example, why You Are My Sunshine holds a special place in the Australian bosss heart is never revealed in the film. How Archins ghost encounter helps him bond with his new classmates needs further explorations. And, apart from a few scenes where Archin chokes on his own cooking, I am still not convinced how a scrawny middle-class Bangkok-born boy who probably has never worked in his life learns to survive in a depressing, asthma-causing environment working as a manual worker for minimum wage.

It also baffles me that Jira again chooses to cast mostly new actors for The Tin Mine like he has done for his first movie, Mekhong Full Moon Party (2002). Archin is such a pivotal character in the film that should be played by a more experienced actor. While I must commend wide-eyed Pichaya Watchitapant for good effort in undertaking such a herculean task of portraying national legend Archin, his acting still comes across as mostly robotic. Likewise, Anthony Howard Goulds performance as the mines good-hearted and frequently inebriated owner is monotonous, and Dolaya Mudchas portrayal of the mesmerizing muse is somnolent. However, Pichaya has a wonderful on-screen chemistry with absent-minded but loyal sidekick Kai, charmingly played by Sontaya Chitmanee.

Even with these flaws, The Tin Mine is still worth seeing, particularly for its meticulous art direction and beautiful cinematography. A silhouette of the tin dredger at sunset remains one of the films most memorable moments. Furthermore, every visually rich scene is augmented by appropriately placed majestic orchestral score. A tin mine never looks more romantic.

The Tin Mine is also worth seeing for another reasonits theme. In a country such as Thailand where an alarming number of 17-year-olds commit suicides as a shortsighted way to deal with failing college examinations, Archins account demonstrates that the university cannot provide all the lifes most important lessons. Learning is a life-long process that only stops at ones death.

In conclusion, go see The Tin Mine. For those who have not gone to college, this film will open your horizon. For those who have, this film will remind you of your university life, where there is plenty of laughter and excessive booze, where lifelong friendships are forged, and where saying goodbye is always tearful. The Tin Mine is no Harvard, but it is still worth your money.

 

 

 

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