Apichatpong Weerasethakul is easily the most renowned director working today in Thailand’s independent cinema. Operating outside of the studio system, he’s achieved his greatest successes with Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and Tropical Malady. However, his first feature was the little known Mysterious Object at Noon. An experimental documentary, he employs the concept of cadavre exquis (exquisite corpse) to piece together a story.
In Mysterious Object at Noon the crew travel across Thailand asking people in the countryside to tell the story of Dogfahr and the Crippled Boy. The tale begins with a teacher visiting a handicapped boy and showing him pictures of the outside world. Weerasethakul plays on the Thai passion for creative storytelling and superstition to propel the narrative forward, set to a backdrop of the beautiful countryside and scenes from everyday life.
Shot in black and white, Mysterious Object at Noon is presented in a beautiful new 2k digital restoration. It takes some time to wrap your head around the concept but it’s a fascinating and rewarding watch. There’s direction behind the scenes which calls into question it’s merit as a documentary but Weerasethakul is open and upfront about this in his interview in the special features. There’s also the inclusion of his short film Nimit (Meteorites).
Mysterious Object at Noon is released on DVD and Blu-ray by Second Run today.