tropical malady

Tropical Malady, which is Apichapong Weerasethakul’s third feature, is a loving, humane yet haunting film compromising of two very different perspectives on the connection between two men. [1] The first film looks at the courtship between two men Keng, a soldier and Tong, an ice factory worker. It shows both of them in totally different locations, from a mall to a forest, playfully flirting with each other. The second film shows a soldier’s trip into the depth of the jungle in search of a shape-shifting Shaman, both played by the same actors as the first. There is little interaction and almost zero dialogue but the beautiful imagery tells an amazing story about connection in a totally different way from the first. [2]


I was inspired by the second part of the film more in the jungle. I decided to create this piece of wood and transferred images of a forest as it’s background to capture the film’s ‘atmosphere’.


I chose to write the film’s title in Thai, which means ‘Monster’, as I feel it represents the film better in a sense. The white shapes floating around it, which are similar to the ones on the poster, can be seen as fireflies which celebrates the coy flirting of young people in the movie. It can also be viewed as bones, creating a dark magical effect of death even though you don’t get to see a glimpse of death at all in the film when the second part is more suggestive of it.


Under UV light, at the corners of the piece, a monkey and cattle can be seen. In the film, the soldier only sees this in a dream like vision. Both of the animals too have a little heart, which was inspired by the quote ‘All of us are by nature wild beasts.’ It also shows two totally different characters seeking each other, just like Keng and Tong and the soldier and the shaman.

At the bottom of the piece, where the cattle stands, a pair of eyes of a tiger can also be seen at certain angles. (Sorry, it’s hard to capture it on camera but you can refer to the UV picture of the cattle to get a glimpse of it) The tiger signifies sexuality which is powerful in the film, it shows that it can be very destructive and frightening, catching you off guard at times.

The fact that nothing in the piece is connected to any other things shows the lack of communication in the film.


1. Seul-le-cinema.blogspot.sg. 2011. Only the Cinema: Tropical Malady. [online] Available at: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.sg/2011/05/tropical-malady.html [Accessed: 23 Jun 2013].

2. Heroic Cinema 3.0. 2005. Tropical Malady (2004). [online] Available at: http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/tropical-malady-2004/ [Accessed: 23 Jun 2013].

About the author:

Dion believes that just like Martin Luther King had a dream, he has a dream too and he’s gonna be like Kerli.


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